Worms could someday help humans regrow body parts

Researchers at the University of Washington hope the next big breakthrough could be to use worms to re-grow body parts.

You have more in common with worms than you think.

Researchers at University of Washington's Friday Harbor Lab are studying a certain kind of worm's genes in the hopes humans could learn something from them.

Acorn worms from the Pacific Ocean are capable of regenerating body parts and organ systems.

"These animals are fairly closely related to us," said Shawn Luttrell, a Ph.D. candidate who is mapping out the worm's DNA.

The worms share many genes with humans.

Researchers hope to understand how the worms use their DNA to regrow body parts and if humans could someday do the same thing.

"Interestingly, when you cut these animals in half -- imagine cutting yourself in half -- they will re-grow everything on the top, and regrow everything on the bottom," said Luttrell, who collected the worms from Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific.

"Is it probable we're going to regrow a head? Probably not. But, we could have more extensive nervous system regeneration," said Luttrell, who says science could someday understand how to regrow nerves or body parts, such as fingers or toes.

Copyright 2016 KING


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment