Flatworm "could hold key to curing eye diseases"

Flatworm "could hold key to curing eye diseases"

Scientists have uncovered a worm that could hold the key to treating a variety of eye conditions.

The planarian flatworm is able to re-grow missing parts of its body, even once it reaches adulthood, and as such is of great interest to researchers.

According to research in the journal Cell Reports, scientists believe they have now decoded the full genome of the worm's eye, and believe it could be significant in treating a whole host of eye conditions.

One of the key genes identified is the transcription factor ovo, which activates the expressions of other genes as the eye comes into being.

What's more, the gene had not been linked to the eyes until the latest study, where it was revealed to be vital for eye generation in planarian worms.

It was found that when this gene was 'turned off', the worms were unable to regenerate their eyes.

Professor Peter Reddien, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: "This provides perhaps the most comprehensive list of genes involved in eye biology in a model system other than Drosophila that can be used for rapidly studying the function of those genes."ADNFCR-1853-ID-801422266-ADNFCR

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