[ExI] The worms that point the way to understanding tissue regeneration
pharos at gmail.com
Tue Apr 27 14:10:34 UTC 2010
April 23, 2010
(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at The University of Nottingham have
discovered the gene that enables an extraordinary worm to regenerate
its own body parts after amputation -- including a whole head and
The research led by Dr Aziz Aboobaker, a Research Councils UK Fellow
in the School of Biology shows for the first time that a gene called
'Smed-prep' is essential for correctly regenerating a head and brain
in planarian worms. The study is published on April 22 2010 in the
open access journal PLoS Genetics.
Smed-prep is necessary for the correct differentiation and location of
the cells that make up a planarian worm’s head. It is also sufficient
for defining where the head should be located on the worm. The team
have found that although the presence of Smed-prep is vital so that
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. But even so, without Smed-prep these cells do
not organise themselves to form a normal brain.
This could be useful for the Monty Python Black Knight.
But if we regrow another head after accidentally mislaying our present
one, surely we cannot regrow memories as well? Hard to tell with a
worm, of course. But it could be a tricky situation for humans.
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