A Salty Tail

Tadpoles can regenerate an entire tail after an injury (top, with regrown tail). Blocking sodium from getting into cells prevents this regrowth (bottom).Ai-Sun Tseng and M. Levin/Tufts University

Researchers have hit on a winning recipe for regrowing limbs: Add a pinch of salt to a tailless tadpole; let sit for one hour. Yield: One perfectly formed tail, complete with nerves, muscles, blood vessels and other tissues.

It’s not quite as simple as that, but results published in the Sept. 29 Journal of Neuroscience extend the window of time that tadpoles can regrow a tail, raising the possibility that other types of damaged tissue could be similarly regenerated after an injury. Salt’s surprise role in amphibian regeneration may ultimately lead to ways to coax human tissue into regrowing severed limbs and damaged organs.

This kind of regeneration is exciting, says developmental biologist Michael King of Indiana University School of Medicine in Terre Haute, “because this would be the situation encountered in the event of accidental loss of digits or limbs in humans.”

Read more here A Salty Tail – Science News.

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