Tadpole eye transplant shows new way to grow nerves | Science News

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Tadpole eye transplant shows new way to grow nerves

Lowering cells’ electrical charges could help replacement organs wire properly

By
1:54pm, December 1, 2014
nerve cells from an eye

POWER PLAY  Nerve cells (red) from an eye transplanted to a tadpole’s side reach out into the surrounding tissue, but they won’t stray beyond an electric fence of highly charged cells (green).

Wiring replacement organs into the body may be as easy as discharging a biological battery, new experiments with tadpoles suggest.

Scientists cut the eye from one tadpole’s head and transplanted it to another’s flank. Tweaking electrical charges in the recipient tadpole’s body cells stimulated nerve growth from the transplanted eye, researchers report December 1 in Neurotherapeutics.

The study could be an early step toward getting replacement eyes, ears and other organs to wire into a body properly, and it could possibly lead to a method for spinal cord repair.

It’s a feat scientists didn’t think was possible, says Silvia Chifflet, a cell biologist and physiologist at the Universidad de la República medical school in Montevideo, Uruguay. “We used to think that the nervous system, once severed, would not regenerate,” says Chifflet, who was not involved

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