A group of biologists managed to identify and isolate the living cell from an organism capable of regeneration, according to a report published by the journal Cell.
At this time it is about the planarians, a family of worms that when cut into pieces can regenerate each piece into a fully formed individual, a capacity that has been attracting scientific interest for decades.
More than a century ago it was determined that regeneration is due to the multiplication of certain types of cells that were called ‘neoblasts’. But the experiments showed that not all were suitable for regeneration.
When the pluripotent stem cells were discovered, it became evident that they are precisely the type of neoblast capable of regeneration. However, until recently, researchers have been dealing with the tools that help identify these types of cells, isolate them and study them without destroying them.
IN SEARCH OF THE TRUE NEOBLASTS
The group led by Alejandro Alvarado of the Stowers Medical Research Institute (United States) selected the cells that generate the protein piwi-1, an identified marker of stem cells. During their study, they determined that these cells are divided into two classes: those that produce a large amount of piwi-1 and those that do so to a lesser extent.
By studying the DNA of both classes, the biologists concluded that only the first could represent the true neoblasts.
Then, the researchers selected about 8,000 cells of this class and sequenced their RNA, which revealed 12 varieties of stem cells with high levels in piwi-1. After analyzing their DNA, the biologists discarded all the candidates whose genes showed a specialization and formed, which would be part of the skin, etc. In this way he will maintain the varieties that pretend to be pluripotent. The scientists codified them as Nb1 and Nb2.
The last one turned out to be the protein TSPAN-1, belonging to the so-called ‘tetraspanins’, a family of very old proteins represented in the cells of animals, plants and fungi, perhaps being their common ancestor. The functions of mathematics have not yet been fully studied, but the important thing is that they are known to be in the cell membrane.
The researchers created TSPAN-1 sensitive aggressions, which helped them identify and isolate Nb2 cells.
To verify if truth was the “elixir of life”, biologists exposed some planners to a lethal dose of radiation and transplanted them into a single Nb2 cell.
Transplant histories saved the worms, it seems, condemned. A stem cell replaced all the dead cells of tissues and organs.
The important thing is that the molecules used as true markers are also generated in the human body. That is why scientists admit that the human organism can count on mechanisms of dormant regeneration, which they accept to activate.