Humble, organ-growing flatworms may hold key to slowing cancer in humans

A worm may be more similar to humans than you think, and this is interesting to some Oklahoma City researchers.The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists are looking into regeneration. The research has tremendous potential for people. Researchers on the project say lipids, or fats, are key. More important is how to send those lipids to places of regeneration.”We’re not so good at regenerating, that maybe we’re not delivering enough lipids to the tissues that are damaged,” OMRF scientist David Forsthoefel said.Forsthoefel says regeneration research is a growing field and that flatworms and their similarities to humans are showing promising results. “What we discovered is a role for stored neutral lipids, or fats, that are required for planarian flatworms to regenerate,” he said. These worms are the size of sunflower seeds and can regenerate every organ in their bodies.”Say you amputate the head — the head will regrow a new tail within seven to 10 days. But the tail fragment will also regrow a new head with eyes and a functional brain, as well as other internal organs,” he said.One big similarity we have with these worms is a protein known as APO-B. While we store our lipids in fat tissue and the liver, these flatworms store it in their intestines.”APO-B was required to get fat out of the intestine to the stem cells, that need to divide and make new tissues during regeneration,” he said.Inhibiting the protein caused regeneration to slow by around 50%. Now, Forsthoefel said, proving other animals use this protein for regeneration could mean humans could use it, too.The research could aid in cancer treatment. Watch the video above to learn more about this story.

A worm may be more similar to humans than you think, and this is interesting to some Oklahoma City researchers.

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists are looking into regeneration. The research has tremendous potential for people.

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Researchers on the project say lipids, or fats, are key. More important is how to send those lipids to places of regeneration.

“We’re not so good at regenerating, that maybe we’re not delivering enough lipids to the tissues that are damaged,” OMRF scientist David Forsthoefel said.

Forsthoefel says regeneration research is a growing field and that flatworms and their similarities to humans are showing promising results.

“What we discovered is a role for stored neutral lipids, or fats, that are required for planarian flatworms to regenerate,” he said.

These worms are the size of sunflower seeds and can regenerate every organ in their bodies.

“Say you amputate the head — the head will regrow a new tail within seven to 10 days. But the tail fragment will also regrow a new head with eyes and a functional brain, as well as other internal organs,” he said.

One big similarity we have with these worms is a protein known as APO-B. While we store our lipids in fat tissue and the liver, these flatworms store it in their intestines.

“APO-B was required to get fat out of the intestine to the stem cells, that need to divide and make new tissues during regeneration,” he said.

Inhibiting the protein caused regeneration to slow by around 50%. Now, Forsthoefel said, proving other animals use this protein for regeneration could mean humans could use it, too.

The research could aid in cancer treatment.

Watch the video above to learn more about this story.

Contributed by local news sources

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