Students are observing the regeneration process during the course of a month

By Staff Reports

Recently students in the Mount Madonna School 12th grade Honors Science with Humanities course investigated stem cells by conducting a Planarian Regeneration lab. Students observed how planarians regenerate and considered what the applications might be for human science in terms of curing disease.

Planarians are a bilateral flatworm that have the incredible ability to regenerate in totality. Students are observing the regeneration process during the course of a month and recording the ways in which the planarians regenerate asexually. Following various cuts performed on the planarians, students will look at the advantages and disadvantages of regeneration or asexual reproduction. No animals were harmed in this process; regeneration is a type of asexual reproduction and the students’ “cuts” are creating more planarians, or clones of the existing animals.

“There is a lot of groundbreaking research happening around stem cells and the plethora of diseases it may have the ability to cure, including paralysis, diabetes and Parkinson’s,” said teacher Nicole Silva Culbertson. “Stem cell research does not come without controversy and debate, however, about how we acquire stem cells.

“As part of this course, students are studying the various types of stem cells — multi-potent, pluripotent and totipotent — and how we, as humans, derive these stem cells, for example, with in vitro fertilization. Students study the science, history, economics, ethics and political debate around stem cells.”