Scientists have discovered the gene that enables an extraordinary worm to regrow its whole head and brain—and other body parts—after amputation.
The finding is another step forward in efforts to explore how humans might one day regenerate damaged organs and tissue.
The research led by biologist Aziz Aboobaker at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. 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 in the open access journal PLoS Genetics.
Planarian worms have an amazing ability to regenerate body parts following amputation. These remarkable creatures contain adult stem cells that are constantly dividing and can become all of the missing cell types.