Research Highlights: Multi-drug treatment regenerates African clawed frog limbs

By Brian Gratwicke – Flickr: Xenopus laevis, CC BY 2.0,

Multi-drug treatment regenerates African clawed frog limbs

  • Limb regeneration is one of the most sought regeneration among vertebrates.
  • It is important to identify the triggers of natural morphological responses to induce the development of healthy-patterned tissue.
  • The discovery should help millions of patients suffering from diabetes and traumatic injuries.
  • Human limb loss in the United States is expected to increase significantly affecting more than 3 million individuals per year by 2050.
  • Adult African clawed frog has a limited regenerative capacities similar to humans.
  • This frog can serve as a model to test interventions for regeneration.
  • Researchers revealed tissue regrowth and functional restoration of an amputated African clawed frog hind limb.
  • The regeneration process took about 18 months.
  • The frog’s hind limb was exposed to a multi-drug pro-regenerative treatment delivered by a wearable bioreactor.
  • The bioreactor contains silk protein and five small-molecule compounds namely 1,4-dihydrophenonthrolin-4-one-3carboxylic acid, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, growth hormone, resolvin D5, and retinoic acid.
  • The treatment regenerated the skin, bone, and nerves up to a point that exceed the complexity of untreated control group.
  • RNA analysis of the new tissues showed that some of the developmental pathways were activated.
  • The study highlights the way of triggering the internal regenerative processes in vertebrates.


Murugan, N. J., Vigran, H. J., Miller, K. A., Golding, A., Pham, Q. L., Sperry, M. M., Rasmussen-Ivey, C., Kane, A. W., Kaplan, D. L., & Levin, M. (2022). Acute multidrug delivery via a wearable bioreactor facilitates long-term limb regeneration and functional recovery in adult Xenopus laevis. Science advances, 8(4), eabj2164.

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