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Researchers feed tiny pills of RNA to planarians to identify genes essential for regeneration

ake attractive drug targets," Sánchez Alvarado and his fellow researchers wrote in the study.

The planarian makes an ideal biological model for three important reasons, according to Sánchez Alvarado.

* It is amenable to genetic manipulation.
* It is an extremely simple organism with little redundancy in its genes, meaning it has fewer genes to carry out specific functions. This makes it easier to identify a gene's function by silencing it and will help how researchers target their efforts on equivalent genes in mice or zebrafish, for example.
* It is inexpensive to study.

Now that Sánchez Alvarado and his colleagues have opened the door to understanding regeneration by identifying key genes in the process, the U researcher predicts, with aid of the planarian, more discoveries are on the way.

"Our limitations right now are how many experiments we can do in a day," he said. "The mystery of what makes regeneration possible, particularly in these animals, is on its way to finally being resolved."


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Source:University of Utah Health Sciences Center


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