An experiment with glowing nerves create tadpoles with eyes in their tails

Researchers transplanted tadpoles’ eyes to their tails to see if they would form new nervous connections allowing them to see.

Researchers at Tuft’s University transplanted the eyes of young African clawed frog tadpoles from their heads to their tails in an effort to study how their nervous system would adapt.

They gave some of them the drug zolmitriptan, commonly used to treat migraines, and left others alone. Although nerves are often hesitant to grow, in just under half of the tadpoles dosed with zolmitriptan, a network of glowing filamentous nerves spread from their eyes to their spinal cords, indicating that new growth.

The transplantation was easy enough; at such an early stage of development, tadpoles heal quickly, and the eyes integrated into their tails with little problem.

The researchers also modified the tadpoles’ eyes to produce a fluorescent protein, allowing them to trace the development of new nerves. They published their work Thursday in Nature Regenerative Medicine.

Fluorescent proteins show the growth of new nerves after transplantation. (Credit: Blackiston et. al)

The experiment was an attempt to explore how the nervous system can heal itself following an injury.

Source: Tadpoles Learn to See With Eyes in Their Tails – D-brief