Regeneration dependent on electric fields

Brian G Turner

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An interesting story from New Scientist, about how applying a small electric field can change how regeneration works in flatworms at least:

Bioelectric tweak makes flatworms grow a head instead of a tail

Cut off the head of a planarian flatworm, and a new one will grow in its place. The worm is one of many creatures that have some kind of memory for lost limbs, enabling them to regenerate what was there before.

Now it seems that this memory can be altered by meddling with the electrical activity of the animals’ cells. Shifting the bioelectric current at the site of the cut changes the type of appendage regenerated – allowing a head to be regrown in place of a tail, for instance.

I've long felt that the use of electro-magnetic fields could have a profound effect on medicine, hence why I briefly explained how I think the process works in Gathering. :)
 

Dennis E. Taylor

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I remember a number of years ago reading an article on how evidence indicated that it was the nerves that determined regeneration. Kill off the nerves and a flatworm wouldn't regenerate at all.

So this would be essentially interfering with the nerves.
 

Lumens

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That picture of the two headed flat worm reminds me a little of MC Escher's drawings.
 

J Riff

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There's a lovely Worm documentary on youTube. I often talk with my friend - Anna Lid - about wyrms. . ..*
 

Brian G Turner

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I remember a number of years ago reading an article on how evidence indicated that it was the nerves that determined regeneration. Kill off the nerves and a flatworm wouldn't regenerate at all.

So this would be essentially interfering with the nerves.

That makes sense - although a cell might show ionic potential in its cytoplasm, it's probably the connecting nerves that are the main source of any local electro-magnetism.
 

Toby Frost

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I heard a while ago that the presence of a minor electric field makes the limbs of amphibians regrow faster.
 

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