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Blind Tadpoles Learn Visually After Researchers Graft Eyes Onto Tails And Treat Them With Neurotransmitter Drugs

Blind tadpoles were able to process visual information from eyes grafted onto their tails after being treated with a small molecule neurotransmitter drug that augmented innervation, integration, and function of the transplanted organs, according to a paper published online today by researchers at the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in npj Regenerative Medicine, a Nature Research journal. The work, which used a pharmacological reagent already approved for use in humans, provides a potential roadmap for promoting innervation – the supply of nerves to a body part – in regenerative medicine. The researchers sought to better understand how the nascent nerves of re-grown or implanted structures integrate into a host. A lack of innervation and integration can be a barrier in regenerative medicine, particularly for sensory organs that must form connections with the host to communicate auditory, visual and tactile information. “For regenerative medicine to move forward and enable the repair of damaged tissues and organ systems, we need to understand how to promote innervation and integration of transplanted organs,” said the paper’s corresponding author, Michael Levin, Ph.D., Vannevar Bush professor of biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts and the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology. “This research helps illuminate one way to promote innervation and establish neural connections between a host central nervous system and an implant, using a human-approved small molecule drug.”

Read the full article here.

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