American biologists have grown the first «double-headed worm»

© Fallon Durant, Allen Discovery Center at Tufts UniversityЧервь with two heads (above), grown by American biologistsAmerican biologists have grown the first «double-headed worm»© Fallon Durant, Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University

American scientists found in the body of flatworms special area, stimulation of which causes him to grow a second or even a third head instead of the tail after cutting into three parts, according to a paper published in Biophysical Journal.

«We have proven that bioelectric properties of the tissues can permanently change the shape of the body, embedded in the genome that we can flexibly and to radically change the form of the regenerated body parts. Further study of bioelectricity will help us understand how evolved form of the animal body and how it can be used for regenerative therapies,» said Michael Levin (Michael Levin) of tufts University (USA).

In recent years, scientists are finding more evidence that the device of the human body and other living beings, and especially their behaviour, are not only genes, but also by how «Packed» their DNA and many other factors, not related to the transfer of genetic information.

In particular, in recent years, biologists have found that the so-called epigenetic marks help animals and plants to adapt quickly to new environment, and the problems with their «rewriting» were associated with a predisposition to homosexuality and suicide among people.

Two years ago Levin and his colleagues found that the process of regeneration of the heads of the worms-planarian manage not only genes, but also electrical signals exchanged between the cells of these invertebrates when growing a lost tail or front of the body. By studying this process, team Levin learned how to make worms grow «alien» head with the very different architecture of the brain using electrical signals recorded during observations of the growth of the head other types of planarians.

Studying the results of these experiments, the researchers tried to go further and decide to grow a worm with two heads and no tail. To do this, scientists cut a few dozen planarians into three parts, separating their heads and tails, and treated this «stump» alcohol octanol, blocking the transmission of electrical signals between cells.

In 25% of cases, as shown by these experiments, the worms grew more than new head and tail, and two heads, and the remaining worms, as initially it seemed a scientist, developed according to the normal scenario. Later it became clear that cutting these worms and their natural regeneration is often spontaneously led to the formation of «two-headed» specimens, even 7 months after the end of the experiment. It says that there are certain permanent changes in their body, preserved in their body in the form of some «electrical memory» that is separate from the conventional, genetic and epigenetic memory.

Similar transformations are worms and the ability of cells to «remember» your body shape, as I believe Levin and his colleagues, indicates that similar processes govern the growth of the human body during the formation of the embryo, can be modified and used to regenerate lost limbs. Further experiments on the «two-headed» worms, as scientists hope, will help to understand how to implement it.