Electrical stimulation of tissue regeneration in xenopus laevus.

Mar 17, 2016

Researchers at the Forstyth Centre for Regenerative and Developmental Biology in Boston, Massachusetts, lead by Dr. Michael Levin have figured out how to trigger tissue regeneration in xenopus tadpoles past the age when they are normally capable of it. After a certain age, the tadpoles are unable to regrow their tails or other organs after amputation, but some nicely nonlinear research shows that it is possible to duplicate the weak electrical field that builds up around sites of major trauma that heralds the regenerative process. This is a phenomenon found in many higher lifeforms, from frogs to deer (the males of which can grow several millimetres of living bone, in the form of antler, every day) to humans under certain conditions (livers regenerate given time and care, and it is rare but not unheard of for more complex organs to regrow over the course of years) but so far no one's tried to trigger it externally. The pattern of electrical signals is different for each lifeform, and it would be logical to suspect for each organ or form of tissue involved, so the trick lies in figuring out how much current when, where, and in what pattern

Back in the 1980's, there was work done on the electrical stimulation of mending bones, but it seemed to drop off the map around 1987.