Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Super Worm

Stable gene manipulation of the panther worm, new research organism for studying tissue regeneration

28 November 2021

Super Worm

Panther worms (Hofstenia miamia) are used to horrific injury – they will happily take bites out of each other when hungry. It’s all part of life for an animal that can regenerate its entire body. H.miamia can regrow its tail, its muscles, even its brain. In fact, if you chopped it to bits, new worms would grow from the pieces. Here researchers use genomic engineering to make its embryonic stem cells transgenic – introducing genes that produce green and red fluorescent proteins and highlighting different tissues in the developing worm. Under a confocal microscope, researchers spot growing muscle acting as a sort of scaffold for the developing skin (red) to crawl up. With these techniques in hand, one next step is to investigate how the worm regenerates completely – perhaps finding similarities in human stem cells that could be guided to heal wounds.

Written by John Ankers

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