Monday, February 27, 2012

The Worm Turns--Without Aging

Damien: This is an intriguing discovery, although regrowing one's brain would not be a lot of use if doing so meant abandoning all the connectivity of the failing existing one...

<"Immortal Worms Defy Aging"

February 27, 2012; Researchers from The University of Nottingham have demonstrated how a species of flatworm overcomes the aging process to be potentially immortal.  The discovery, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is part of a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC) and may shed light on the possibilities of alleviating aging and age-related characteristics in human cells.

         Planarian worms have amazed scientists with their apparently limitless ability to regenerate. Researchers have been studying their ability to replace aged or damaged tissues and cells in a bid to understand the mechanisms underlying their longevity.

         Dr Aziz Aboobaker from the University's School of Biology said, "We've been studying two types of planarian worms; those that reproduce sexually, like us, and those that reproduce asexually, simply dividing in two. Both appear to regenerate indefinitely by growing new muscles, skin, guts and even entire brains over and over again.

         "Usually when stem cells divide -­ to heal wounds, or during reproduction or for growth -­ they start to show signs of aging. This means that the stem cells are no longer able to divide and so become less able to replace exhausted specialized cells in the tissues of our bodies. Our aging skin is perhaps the most visible example of this effect. Planarian worms and their stem cells are somehow able to avoid the aging process and to keep their cells dividing.">

See the link for more.

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