The eyes of a unique South African frog embryo could help doctors better understand how human eye tissue can naturally heal itself. Well, at least that’s according to a new study out of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) that examined what happened to the eyes of South African clawed frog embryos.
For this study, scientists took out most of the frog embryos’ eye tissues and then examined what happened over the course of a few days. Amazingly, the tissue on the embryos began re-growing into a perfectly healthy eye in only five days.
Investigators were able to confirm the embryos were re-growing functional eyes by placing the embryos in-between a black and clear background. They found that the embryos had a strong preference for swimming in the clear background, which indicates that they can see where they’re going.
Since these frogs’ eyes are somewhat similar to human eyes, study authors are hopeful their data could be used to help better understand eye self-repair. The end goal of this research is to replicate this kind of tissue repair in human eyes using stem cell therapy.
South African clawed frogs (officially classified as Xenopus laevis) are well known for regenerating their limbs and tails when they are cut off. Amazingly, these frogs can even regenerate parts of their brain when damaged. Interestingly, however, this is the first study to prove the Xenopus laevis can re-grow its eyes when in the embryonic state.
Dr. Kelly Tseng, who teaches at the UNLV’s School of Life Sciences and Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine, was the lead author on this study. The other researchers on this project include Cindy X. Kha, Philip H. Son, and Julia Lauper.
Anyone interested in this research should pick up the April 2018 copy of Experimental Eye Research. This study was published under the title, “A model for investigating developmental eye repair in Xenopus laevis.”