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Dis Model Mech. 2011 Jan;4(1):12-9. doi: 10.1242/dmm.006692. Epub 2010 Dec 6.

The planarian flatworm: an in vivo model for stem cell biology and nervous system regeneration.

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Planarian Stem Cell Laboratory, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Von-Esmarch-Strasse 54, 48149 Münster, Germany.


Planarian flatworms are an exception among bilaterians in that they possess a large pool of adult stem cells that enables them to promptly regenerate any part of their body, including the brain. Although known for two centuries for their remarkable regenerative capabilities, planarians have only recently emerged as an attractive model for studying regeneration and stem cell biology. This revival is due in part to the availability of a sequenced genome and the development of new technologies, such as RNA interference and next-generation sequencing, which facilitate studies of planarian regeneration at the molecular level. Here, we highlight why planarians are an exciting tool in the study of regeneration and its underlying stem cell biology in vivo, and discuss the potential promises and current limitations of this model organism for stem cell research and regenerative medicine.

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