Regeneration is in essence the recapitulation of early development. The Sánchez Alvarado Lab investigates the genetic basis and molecular processes of regeneration and tissue maintenance. The group has established the planarian flatworm, Schmidtea mediterranea, as an essential research organism for regeneration science across the globe.
Dozens of genes, and genetic and molecular pathways that drive planarian regeneration have been uncovered in the lab. The lab has identified that adult somatic stem cells are the sole proliferating cell type that differentiate and are responsible for proper anatomical and functional integration of new tissues into pre-existing tissue.
The Sánchez Alvarado Lab continues to study planarians yet has expanded regeneration research to other organisms including the apple snail, Pomacia cannaliculata, and the African killifish, Nothobranchius furzeri. By investigating and characterizing the molecular and genetic basis of regeneration in multiple research organisms, the team seeks to understand developmental and evolutionary tradeoff mechanisms in higher organisms, including humans.