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Can humans regenerate body parts like acorn worms?

Washington D.C. [USA], Nov. 29 (ANI): Is it possible for humans to regrow an amputated arm or leg, or completely restore nervous system function after a spinal cord injury?

It might be possible one day, as a new study of one of our closest invertebrate relatives, the acorn worm, reveals that acorn worms can regrow every major body part, raising hopes for regeneration in humans.

Acorn worms burrow in the sand around coral reefs, but their ancestral relationship to chordates means they have a genetic makeup and body plan surprisingly similar to ours.

A study led by the University of Washington and published in the December issue of the journal Developmental Dynamics has shown that acorn worms can regrow every major body part — including the head, nervous system and internal organs — from nothing after being sliced in half. If scientists can unlock the genetic network responsible for this feat, they might be able to regrow limbs in humans through manipulating our own similar genetic heritage.

“We share thousands of genes with these animals, and we have many, if not all, of the same genes they are using to regenerate their body structures,” said lead author Shawn Luttrell, a UW biology doctoral student based at Friday Harbor Laboratories.

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