For the first time, scientists have figured out how to regrow not just the bone but even the joints of a mouse’s amputated toes.
Normally mammals like mice don’t regenerate body parts — meaning the new development could help lead to futuristic medical procedures in which amputees are able to grow back their missing limbs.
Thanks to a cocktail of proteins that stimulate regeneration, lab mice grew back a greater portion of their amputated toes than was possible in past experiments, according to New Scientist.
Biologists from Texas A&M University amputated the toes of mice and then treated them with two specific proteins, BMP2 and BMP9. The proteins triggered their bodies to grow back missing bones and, in a medical first, the cartilage necessary to support the joints of their toes, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Just three days after treatment, more than 60 percent of the new bones had a layer of cartilage covering them.