Regeneration is the process of restoring lost or damaged tissues to their original state. While humans and other mammals have only limited regeneration capacity, some other species can regenerate extremely well. For example, flatworms can grow back entire body parts after amputation, and for this reason have been extensively used as model organisms in research on regeneration. The cellular basis for regeneration in flatworms is provided by coordinated activity of pluripotent stem cells called neoblasts, which give rise to various specialized cell types required to reconstitute a tissue.
The research group led by Eugene Berezikov is developing and using the flatworm Macrostomum lignano as a model organism to study the interplay between stem cell regulation, mechanisms of regeneration, and aging. Due to its high regeneration capacity, small size, transparency and clear morphology, ease of culture, short generation time and amenability to genetic manipulation, M. lignano provides a unique and powerful system for stem cell research.