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A salty tail

Just adding sodium can stimulate limb regrowth in tadpoles

5:17pm, September 28, 2010

Researchers have hit on a winning recipe for regrowing limbs: Add a pinch of salt to a tailless tadpole; let sit for one hour. Yield: One perfectly formed tail, complete with nerves, muscles, blood vessels and other tissues.

It’s not quite as simple as that, but results published in the Sept. 29 Journal of Neuroscience extend the window of time that tadpoles can regrow a tail, raising the possibility that other types of damaged tissue could be similarly regenerated after an injury. Salt’s surprise role in amphibian regeneration may ultimately lead to ways to coax human tissue into regrowing severed limbs and damaged organs. 

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