How to Grow a New Head

Medical Genetics

Cut most species of flatworm in half, and you end up with two flatworms. The front half will grow a new tail and, more impressively, the back half will grow a new head—complete with a fully functioning brain. But a few species of these worms mysteriously lack this ability, at least when it comes to regrowing a head. Now, three teams of researchers have not only zeroed in on the biological reason for this limitation, they’ve also managed to restore the worms’ full regenerative abilities by manipulating a single genetic pathway.

The worms in question are known as planarians. Usually about a centimeter long, they live under rocks in freshwater ecosystems such as streams and ponds. Why some planarians can so easily regenerate a head but others can’t is a question that has long puzzled scientists. “This is really just a classic problem in the field,” says Phillip Newmark, a…

View original post 967 more words

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s