Studying limb development and regeneration using simplified systems
Current research in the field of limb development relies almost entirely on animal experiments. There is an urgent need to develop alternative models that do not require animals.
Many people in Switzerland and around the world live with deformed arms or only one leg. Estimates indicate that the growing prevalence of diabetes and vascular disease will lead to a further increase in amputations and limb deformities. Unfortunately, the only treatments available to affected patients are prosthetics.
Current research in the field of limb development and regeneration relies almost entirely on animal experiments, chickens and mice being used to study limb development, frogs and salamanders to study regeneration.
"There is an urgent need to develop alternative models that do not require animals," says Can Aztekin, project leader at EPF Lausanne. Over the next four years, the team will develop such models – for example limb explants from frogs or mammalian stem-cell-based limb development models (an explant is a tissue or an organ removed from an organism for tissue engineering). "Since we aim to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals, our work covers all areas of the 3Rs," Aztekin says. To ensure the models are as robust as possible, the team will work with international research groups on testing and improvement.
Building and re-building limbs in a dish for development and regeneration