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Boston biotech has raised nearly $10 million to study limb regrowth

The research has a long way to go, but Morphoceuticals says testing of its drug cocktail shows promise.

Boston biotech Morphoceuticals was founded by Tufts University professors Michael Levin and David Kaplan.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/file

A Boston biotech startup working on technology to enable people to regrow limbs lost as a result of trauma or disease has raised about $9.7 million to advance its early efforts, including $8 million announced on Wednesday.

Morphoceuticals was founded in 2020 by Tufts University professors Michael Levin and David Kaplan. They were among a group of researchers from Tufts and Harvard University who published a widely reported paper in Science Advances in January 2022 demonstrating limb regeneration in an African clawed frog.

It was the first successful effort to achieve functional limb regeneration in an adult animal of a species that does not naturally regrow complex limbs in adulthood.

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The treatment consisted of a drug cocktail applied in a wearable bioreactor on the frog’s hind leg for just 24 hours, which triggered an 18-month period of regrowth and restoration of the leg’s function.

The science is very early, but Morphoceuticals hopes to eventually apply it to humans. About 185,000 amputations are performed in the US each year, and estimates project that nearly 3.6 million people will be living with the loss of an arm or leg by 2050, the firm said.

The latest fundraising round was led by Prime Movers Lab and initial investor Juvenescence.


Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jonathan.saltzman@globe.com.