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ADULT STEM CELLS Revealed: The secret of how worms re-grow amputated body parts… and how humans could one day do the 

Posted Apr 27 2010 12:00am

WORMS USE ADULT STEM CELLS TO REGROW PARTS

Revealed: The secret of how worms re-grow amputated body parts… and how humans could one day do the same

By Daily Mail Reporter

Scientists have discovered the gene that allows a worm to regenerate its own body parts after they are amputated, it was announced today.

The research into how Planarian worms can re-grow body parts – including a whole head and brain – could one day make it possible to regenerate old or damaged human organs and tissues, the University of Nottingham said.

The research, led by Dr Aziz Aboobaker, a Research Councils UK Fellow in the university’s School of Biology, shows a gene called ‘Smed-prep’ is essential for correctly regenerating a head and brain in Planarian worms.

Research into how Planarian worms can re-grow body parts could one day make it possible to regenerate old or damaged human organs and tissues

Research into how Planarian worms can re-grow body parts could one day make it possible to regenerate old or damaged human organs and tissues

The worms have the unusual ability to regenerate body parts, including a head and brain, following amputation.

They contain adult stem cells that are constantly dividing and can become all of the missing cell types.

They also have the right set of genes working to make this happen as it should so that when they re-grow body parts they end up in the right place and have the correct size, shape and orientation, the research showed.

The study is published today in the open access journal PLoS Genetics.

Dr Aboobaker said: ‘These amazing worms offer us the opportunity to observe tissue regeneration in a very simple animal that can regenerate itself to a remarkable extent and does so as a matter of course.

‘We want to be able to understand how adult stem cells can work collectively in any animal to form and replace damaged or missing organs and tissues.

‘Any fundamental advances in understanding from other animals can become relevant to humans surprisingly quickly.

‘If we know what is happening when tissues are regenerated under normal circumstances, we can begin to formulate how to replace damaged and diseased organs, tissues and cells in an organised and safe way following an injury caused by trauma or disease.

‘This would be desirable for treating Alzheimer’s disease, for example.

‘With this knowledge we can also assess the consequences of what happens when stem cells go wrong during the normal processes of renewal – for example in the blood cell system where rogue stem cells can result in Leukaemia.’

The researchers said Smed-prep is necessary for the correct differentiation and location of cells that make up a Planarian worm’s head, as well as for defining where the head should be located.

They found although the presence of Smed-prep is vital so the head and brain are in the right place, the worm stem cells can still be persuaded to form brain cells as a result of the action of other unrelated genes…

via Revealed: The secret of how worms re-grow amputated body parts… and how humans could one day do the same | Mail Online .

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