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The dream of regrowing human body parts could become a reality after a major scientific breakthrough.
A stem cell has been identified which causes a humble flatworm to regrow a head, brain or other tissue - a breakthrough that has huge potential for people.
Medicine - Skin - Cells - Organs - Day
Regenerative medicine, where skin cells or even entire organs are regrown, could one one day provide a cure for a number of conditions
These range from birth defects and blindness to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Team - Experts - Stowers - Institute - Medical
A team of experts from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri, found the cell - which can regenerate an entire organism - after pioneering a technique using flow cytometry that scans cells in fast moving blood.
They isolated the amazing cell in the planarian flatworm before it performed its remarkable regenerative act.
Scientists - Worm - Ponds - Lakes - Key
Some scientists believe the worm, that lives in ponds and lakes, holds the key to immortality.
The cell, which has been named Nb2, is a form of adult pluripotent stem cell - unspecialised 'master' cells found in humans that develop into many types of tissue and organs.
Author - Professor - Alejandro - Sanchez - Alvarado
Senior author Professor Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, a molecular biologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at investigator at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, said: 'This is the first time an adult pluripotent stem cell has been isolated prospectively.
'Our finding essentially says this is no longer an abstraction, that there truly is a cellular entity that can restore regenerative capacities to animals that have lost it and that such entity can now be purified alive and studied in detail.'
Thanks - 'marker - Sign - Humans - Protein
What is more, it was pinpointed thanks to a 'marker', or biological sign, that is also present in humans - a protein known as piwi-1.
Professor Sanchez Alvarado added: 'The fact the marker we discovered is expressed not only in planarians but also in...
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