Scientists at Forsyth may have moved one step closer to regenerating human spinal cord tissue by artificially inducing a frog tadpole to re-grow its tail at a stage in its development when it is normally impossible. Using a variety of methods including a kind of gene therapy, the scientists altered the electrical properties of cells thus inducing regeneration. This discovery may provide clues about how bioelectricity can be used to help humans regenerate.
This study, for the first time, gave scientists a direct glimpse of the source of natural electric fields that are crucial for regeneration, as well as revealing how these are produced. In addition, the findings provide the first detailed mechanistic synthesis of bioelectrical, molecular-genetic, and cell-biological events underlying the regeneration of a complex vertebrate structure that includes skin, muscle, vasculature and critically spinal cord. Although the Xenopus (frog) tadpole sometimes has the ability to re-grow its tail, there are specific times during its development that regeneration does not take place (much as human children lose the ability to regenerate finger-tips after 7 years of age). During the Forsyth study, the activity of a yeast proton pump (which produces H+ ion flow and thus sets up regions of higher and lower pH) triggered the regeneration of the frog's tail during the normally quiescent time.
This research will be published in the April issue of Development and will appear online on February 28, 2007.
According to the publication's first author, Dany Adams, Ph.D., Assistant Research Investigator at the Forsyth Institute, applied electric fields have long been known to enhance regeneration in amphibia, and in fact have led to clinical trials in human patients. "However, the molecular sources of relevant currents and the mechanisms underlying their control have remained poorly understood," said Adams. "To truly make strides in regenerative medicine, we need to understand the innate components that underlie bioelectrical events during normal development and regeneration. Our ability to stop regeneration by blocking a particular H+ pump and to induce regeneration when it is normally absent, means we have found at least one critical component."
The research team, led by Michael Levin, Ph.D., Director of the Forsyth Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology has been using the Xenopus tadpole to study regeneration because it provides an opportunity to see how much can be done with non-embryonic (somatic) cells during regeneration, and it is a perfect model system in which to understand how movement of electric charges leads to the ability to re-grow a fully functioning tail. Furthermore, said Dr. Levin, tail regeneration in Xenopus is more likely to be similar to tissue renewal in human beings than some other regenerative model systems. The Forsyth scientists previously studied the role that apoptosis, a process of programmed cell death in multi-cellular organisms, plays in regeneration.
Michael Levin, PhD. is an Associate Member of the Staff in The Forsyth Institute Department of Cytokine Biology and the Director of the Forsyth Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology. Through experimental approaches and mathematical modeling, Dr. Levin and his team examine the processes governing large-scale pattern formation and biological information storage during animal embryogenesis. The lab investigates mechanisms of signaling between cells and tissues that allows a living system to reliably generate and maintain a complex morphology. The Levin team studies these processes in the context of embryonic development and regeneration, with a particular focus on the biophysics of cell behavior.
Jennifer Kelly | EurekAlert!
Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences