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These Worms’ Stem Cells Are Developmental Shapeshifters

By April 22, 2021No Comments

Planarians are small water-dwelling worms known for their regenerative capacity. If you chop one into ten pieces, you’ll end up with ten fully-formed worms. While humans have pools of specialized stem cells that can create our regenerative body parts like hair and skin, these worms owe their regenerative superpowers to a special kind of stem cell called a neoblast. At least some of these cells are “pluripotent,” meaning that they can divide to create almost any cell type in a worm’s body at any time. Neoblasts are actually the only dividing cells in planarians — fully committed cells like those in the eyes or intestines cannot divide again.