Regenerative Medicine

Tufts’ experts in biology and regenerative medicine are developing groundbreaking new frameworks for harnessing the mechanisms that allow multicellular bodies to self-assemble, repair, and improvise novel solutions to anatomical goals.

Harnessing the Power of Intelligent, Multicellular Bodies

A screen shows a sample of growing nerve cells cultured in the Iyer Stem Cell and Regeneration Lab

Working at the intersection of developmental biology, artificial life, bioengineering, synthetic morphology, and cognitive science, scientists at Tufts’ Levin Lab seek to understand diverse intelligences—including cells, tissues, organs, synthetic living constructs, robots, and software-based AIs—with the aim of revolutionizing medical care.

Led by Michael Levin, Vannevar Bush Professor of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences, researchers at Levin’s lab and at the Allen Discovery Center take an interdisciplinary approach to reading, interpreting, and writing the morphogenetic code. That code, an instructive layer of biophysical computations, lies between the genomically specified protein hardware of cells and the complex anatomy; it orchestrates and enables cells to communicate to create and repair the structure and function of bodies.

Applying that knowledge, Tufts’ experts have regrown a frog’s lost leg, bringing millions of patients who have lost limbs one step closer to the possibility of regaining function through natural regeneration. They have also created the next generation of living robots, tiny “Xenobots” that self-assemble a body from single cells, move without muscle cells, demonstrate the capability of recordable memory—and even self-replicate.

Ongoing work at the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology promises additional advances in the field, with researchers at the center using a combination of wearable bioreactors and small molecule drug regimes to trigger rodent limb regeneration and demonstrating a new bioelectric method to regulate innervation from organ transplants.