) 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
A former researcher in systems biology, John is now an online biology tutor and professional coach supporting the wellbeing of scientists and NHS professionals. He's writing, too, of course.