Planarian Regeneration and Stem Cells
This video discusses the remarkable regenerative capabilities of the planarian, and how biologist Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado uses them to study the biology of stem cells.
Planarians are simple multicellular animals that can regenerate entire parts of their bodies. This video discusses the anatomy of planarians and what makes them so exceptional at regeneration: adult stem cells called neoblasts. When a planarian is cut, its neoblasts multiply to make more stem cells. These stem cells then differentiate into the cells needed to replace the missing body parts.
Sánchez Alvarado and his colleagues are using a technique called RNA interference to identify the genes involved in planarian regeneration, and to turn off specific genes to determine stem cell function. The hope is that this research can inform the understanding of similar types of cells in other organisms, including humans.
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