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Flatworms Provide New Insight Into Organ Regeneration and the Evolution of Mammalian Kidneys

Our bodies are perfectly capable of renewing billions of cells every day but fail miserably when it comes to replacing damaged organs such as kidneys. Using the flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea -- famous for its capacity to regrow complete animals from minuscule flecks of tissue -- as an eloquent example, researchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research demonstrated how our distant evolutionary cousins regenerate their excretory systems from scratch.

In the process, the Stowers team led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Stowers investigator Alejandro Sanchéz Alvarado, Ph.D., not only established flatworms as a valuable model system to study tissue maintenance and organ regeneration but also provided new clues about the evolutionary origin of mammalian kidneys. Their study is published in the current issue of the journal Development.

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"The maintenance and regeneration of the planarian excretory system are regulated by EGFR signaling." (http://dev.biologists.org/content/138/17/3769)

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