Morphoceuticals showcase successful limb regeneration in frogs


Morphoceuticals Inc., a portfolio company of Juvenescence Ltd., hailed the results of a long-term study published by its founders in Science Advances showing the successful regeneration of limbs in Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog). This is said to be the first demonstration of functional limb regeneration in a species that does not show spontaneous regeneration of complex limbs in adulthood. Approximately 185,000 amputations, the surgical removal of a limb, are performed in the United States each year and it is expected that nearly 3.6 million people will be living with the loss of an arm or a leg by 2050. 

Work conducted at the academic labs of Michael Levin, Vannevar Bush Professor of Biology at Tufts University and David Kaplan, Stern Family Professor of Engineering at Tufts, the co-founders of Morphoceuticals Inc., demonstrated the regrowth, marked tissue repatterning, and functional restoration of an X. laevis hindlimb following a brief, 24-hour exposure to a novel multidrug, pro-regenerative treatment delivered by a wearable bioreactor. Regenerated tissues composed of new skin, bone, vasculature, and nerves significantly exceeded the complexity and sensorimotor capacities of the study’s controls.

Levin stated that “Organisms such as X. laevis, whose limited regenerative capacities in adulthood mirror some of the key limitations of humans, are important models with which to test interventions and discover triggers that could restore both form and function”. Kaplan added “These data demonstrate our ability to successfully ’kickstart’ endogenous regenerative pathways in vertebrates; however, translation of these findings to mammals remains to be demonstrated as a next key step in this process.”

Greg Bailey, MD, the CEO of Juvenescence Ltd., the seed investor of Morphocueticals, noted, “Drs. Levin and Kaplan are pioneering new approaches to enable the regeneration of functioning limbs, tissues, and organs. These findings herald the first application of a new set of tools that will be further developed by Morphoceuticals and will allow us to explore new approaches to regenerative treatment in ways that are truly unique.” He added that, “The potential applications are aimed at one day helping patients overcome the burden of loss of organs and limbs in ways that traditional medicine cannot, and that was why Juvenescence invested and continues to be so supportive of Morphoceuticals’ scientific platform.”

Alex Pickett, Managing Director and Head of Business Development at Juvenescence and a Director of Morphoceuticals, Inc. remarked, “The long-term regenerative effects of a short exposure to a multi-drug cocktail suggest that Drs. Levin and Kaplan have been able to trigger a developmental subroutine that can be repurposed for regenerative medicine. Juvenescence is excited for Morphoceuticals to continue developing a better understanding of how bioelectric patterning contributes to development and regeneration.”



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