back to article Gene that allows growing a new head identified

British boffins say they have identified the key "smed-prop" gene which allows Planarian flatworms to regenerate any part of their body following an injury - even their brains. The discovery is seen as a step towards regeneration therapy for humans in future. Top bio-boffin Dr Aziz Aboobaker and grad student Daniel Felix, who …


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  1. Robert Ramsay
    Thumb Up

    when they say...

    "This would be preferable to removing a duff brain and growing a new one, as happens when a planarian worm's head is cut off."

    I'm sure we can all think of a few people for which this would be the best route from A to B.

  2. Graham Marsden

    "smed-prop"? Or...

    ... "smed-prep"?

    (At least it wasn't "Smeg Head!")

  3. David McMahon
    Thumb Up


    Seems exciting, when's it on the NHS?

    What postcode is best?

  4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Where's the problem?

    Why don't they just take spares out of the jar marked 'lunatics brains'? It's always worked perfectly for me...

    1. Wize

      How about

      Abbey Someone...

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Zaphod Beeblebrox...

    ...already did this...

    1. Peter Nevin

      Not a good example

      Does that mean that the second head will look like a bad BBC prop?

  6. Mad Hacker

    It's about damn time

    Wasn't this an obvious step or growing new organs/limbs? Hurry up already!

  7. Eddy Ito

    New brains, STAT!!

    Given the level of brain damage in politicians, I'm willing to forgo further testing and clinical trials to get this implemented in D.C. immediately. Ideally, it should be started on the extreme wings of each party and work toward the middle. Once the House has been passed, it will go on to resolve the Senate. If it works in those two places it should work in any government suffering from craniorectal brain disease.

  8. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    This make me feel uneasy

    Surely, playing around at this level could well cause cancers and teratomas (some of the pictures of these just make me feel sick!).

    After all, it is a breakdown of the controls on cellular division that cause both of these conditions.

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: This make me feel uneasy

      Yes, it's very likely that simply sticking this gene into a higher organism will just kill it with cancer, assuming it does anything at all. There's decades worth of research to do before anything useful can come out of this. Which, of course, is why said research should get started ASAP! :)

  9. Joe User

    @Eddy Ito

    As far as politicians go, there's a big difference between having a brain and actually using it.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Having worked in Weymouth or Portland, you'd know that the two heads/six-fingers/six-toes gene has been in circulation for generations.

  11. John F***ing Stepp

    I don't know.

    "You insensitive prick, do you know how much that stings?"

    Of course it could be the "killer app" of hangover cures.

  12. Dave Mundt
    Thumb Up

    Those wild and crazy planaria...

    Greetings and Salutations.

    There is a classic book here in the USA, titled "Animals without Backbones" (and no it does NOT mention politicians anywhere in its several hundred pages), that has a section on the Planaria worm. There are a number of amazing photos, including one where the researcher split the head in half, along the central line of the body, then, after those heads regenerated, continued the process until they ended up with a worm with about 16 heads. The "expression" on a Planaria worm is puzzled at best, and with 16 heads it made it quite amusing.

    Although it was published in 1938, it is still considered a great reference and textbook. By the by, it was also what my parents would read to me when I was growing up to put me to sleep...and THAT might explain a number of things (*smile*).

    Pleasant dreams

    Dave Mundt

  13. mhenriday

    I expect El Reg

    to start a poll on to whom the boffins should offer a new brain first. I have several candidates....


  14. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    So are we talking RAID 1 or higher?

    I mean, I assume that this science would finally enable men to multi-task.

    (another bad example)

  15. Wize

    If someone blew their brains out... could grow it back, but their memories wont be intact. You would have a functioning brain in a functioning body, but it would be like a baby's mind again.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Two heads should be better than one.

    At least you'll be able to have a good argument with yourself without looking stupid, and also to know you're going to win.

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