Saturday, June 10, 2017

Regeneration for the Medicine of the Future #Science

Maybe some of you remember Planaria from high school Biology since they are little flatworms which are otherwise unremarkable but you can cut his little flatworm head in half to see both will regenerate themselves so now he has two heads and think how much fun that could be in your own life.

Posit:  if your first head got a headache and the other didn't, would your first head get resentful and hide the TV channel changer just to be spiteful?

Make what you will of the deviant who came up with the idea of, hey, what say we find some damn little worm, cut him into bits, and see what happens.

That process of regeneration is endlessly fascinating to scientists and why not when they wonder why we can't do it too or at least do it better.  We can slowly regenerate our nails and, for a time, our hair but not much beyond that in any spectacular kind of way.  However, we see lizards growing new tails plus other creatures doing things of that nature and start thinking, hmmm, who needs transplants when maybe I can just grow another heart or lung or whatever.

Note:  I know I'm ignoring the continual replacement of cells in the human body which is great for the system but doesn't yield so much spectacle or at least not the kind we need here.  For example, our skin constantly regenerates itself.

In my own circumstance, I need to replace a lung or two so my thinking goes to the regeneration function in my brain to tell the bitch lung, "Make some space since I will grow another lung down there.  As soon as the replacement gets big enough to function at all, lose yourself so the new one can have your space.  Let me know when you're done.  Silas out."

So that would be swell since I could take a few weeks off from soccer practice and come back good as new.  Sign me up.

But it's never going to be quite the same in space, is it.  (Science Daily:  Space-traveling flatworms help scientists enhance understanding of regenerative health)

Worms returning from five weeks in space curled up and were immobile when transferred to petri dishes containing fresh spring water. By contrast, stay-at-home control worms moved rapidly and fully extended themselves.

Credit: Junji Morokuma, Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University

It's science, man.  Grip it; hold it; love it ... even the flatworms.

Most surprising, researchers discovered that one of the amputated fragments sent to space regenerated into a rare double-headed worm. In more than 18 person-years of maintaining a colony of D. japonica that involves more than 15,000 control worms in just the last five years alone, the Tufts researchers have never observed a spontaneous occurrence of double-headedness. Moreover, when the researchers amputated both heads from the space-exposed worm, the headless middle fragment regenerated into a double-headed worm, demonstrating that the body plan modification that occurred in the worm was permanent.

- SD

Now you've got some strange since it really is different in space.  The interested student is invited to pursue the original article for whatever the researchers made of that fact but our interest is that it happened at all.

For some reason, if you send flatworms to space, they become politicians which seems a reasonably good reason not to send any more of them.  Fortunately, that phenomenon is rarely observed in human astronauts and we liked it the only time it really did (i.e. John Glenn).

The researchers will almost certainly pursue this until they can state categorically why there should be a variation to the phenomenon in space but I do wish they would get on with it since I could (cough) use another lung.

Maestro, rim shot, please.

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