Quiz Yourself to Grow What You Know About Regeneration

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Regeneration is the natural process of replacing or restoring cells that have been lost or damaged due to injury or disease. A few animals can regrow entire organs or other body parts, but most have limited abilities to regenerate.

Scientists in the field of regenerative medicine study how some animals are able to rebuild lost body parts. By better understanding these processes and learning how to control them, researchers hope to develop new methods to treat injuries and diseases in people.

Take this quiz to test what you know about regeneration and regenerative medicine. Then check out our Regeneration fact sheet and the regeneration issue of Pathways Link to external web site, a teaching resource produced in collaboration with Scholastic.

    1.) Which of these animals don’t have the ability to regenerate?

  • A blue-, silver-, and yellow-striped zebrafish in the water. Credit: iStock.
    Zebrafish can regrow their fins. They can also repair damaged organs, including the brain and heart, as well as an injured spinal cord. Try a different answer.
  • A fruit fly with red eyes, clear wings, and a tan body standing on a white background. Credit: iStock.
    *That’s right! Fruit flies (Drosophila) can’t regrow lost or damaged body parts. They are a popular research organism for studying various aspects of developmental biology and genetics in the lab, but not for studying regeneration.
  • A purple and pink sea urchin on a rock under water. Credit: iStock.
    Sea urchins have the ability to regenerate damaged parts, including their spines and tube feet, even when they’re quite old—and some sea urchins live more than 100 years! Try again.
  • A pale pink and white salamander in water surrounded by green plants. Credit: iStock.
    Axolotls can regrow their tails and their limbs as well as their spinal cords and brains. Choose another answer.

    2.) The human body can regenerate:

  • A man smiling in a way that shows his teeth. Credit: iStock.
    Tooth enamel is not a living tissue, so it can’t regenerate. This is why it’s so important to take care of your teeth. Try another answer.
  • A human foot with the big toe wrapped in white gauze. Credit: iStock.
    Although some animals can regrow entire limbs, humans are unable to regrow toes, or any other limbs or extremities. Try again.
  • An illustration of a human heart. Credit: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator, and C. Carl Jaffe, MD. CC BY 2.5 Link to external web site.
    The valves of the heart are unable to regenerate. For this reason, surgery to repair heart valves often involves implanting either a mechanical valve or replacement tissue from a human or animal donor. Choose a different answer.
  • An x-ray showing a broken human forearm. Credit: Jane Agnes. CC BY-SA 3.0 Link to external web site.
    *That’s right! The human body can regenerate bone tissue, as well as skin tissue, to repair injuries. It also can regrow large portions of the liver. Although scientists believed for a long time that the brain could never grow new cells after brain damage, they now know that certain nerve cells can regenerate and form new connections.

    3.) True or false: A planarian flatworm can regrow its entire body from one tiny piece of tissue.

  • A tan and brown planarian worm on a white background. Credit: iStock.
    *That’s it! It may seem strange, but only a tiny fragment of the worm is enough to regenerate an entire body, as long as the fragment contains at least one specialized cell called a neoblast.
  • A tan and brown planarian worm on a white background. Credit: iStock.
    Although it’s hard to believe, a planarian worm can regenerate its entire body and all of its parts, as long as the remaining fragment contains at least one specialized cell called a neoblast.

    4.) True or false: The same genes that some animals use to undergo extensive regeneration are also found in humans.

  • A computer-generated strand of DNA. Credit: iStock.
    *That’s correct! Scientists are trying to learn more about these genes so they can figure out how to activate them in humans.
  • A computer-generated strand of DNA. Credit: iStock.
    It’s true that humans don’t use these genes for regeneration, but we do have them.

    5.) Which of these is an achievement of regeneration research involving stem cells?

  • Induced stem cells made from adult skin cells stained green and blue and seen through a microscope. Credit: James Thomson, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
    *Yes, that’s correct. Researchers use a tool that acts like a spray gun to treat burn wounds with the patient’s own stem cells. The stem cells are applied with the tool and help repair the wound by growing new skin. This prevents scarring and speeds up healing.
  • A computer-generated illustration of two human lungs in bright blue. Credit: iStock.
    Unlike what you see in movies and on television, researchers haven’t developed a device like this to treat lung diseases like asthma. Try again.
  • A man with a white beard. Credit: Xevi Casanovas, Unsplash.
    Some regeneration researchers study animals that show few signs of aging throughout their lifespans, like sea urchins, to better understand human aging. But we’re far from having a treatment that allows people to completely stop the clock. Try another answer.
  • A female scientist in a lab preparing a slide to put under a microscope. Credit: iStock.
    While human cloning may play a big part in science fiction, it’s not something regeneration researchers study in the real world due to ethical concerns. Choose a different answer.

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