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By Haley Dion, VI Form
Unique Advances in Transplant Research with Hydractinia
Transplantation is the future of medicine. It is an ever-evolving field of research. For three weeks this summer, I was given the opportunity to take part in the research by interning at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Institute. At the institute, I worked in the Nicotra Lab under the mentorship of Dr. Matthew Nicotra. The Nicotra Lab is one of the Stuart K. Patrick Research Laboratories at the Institute named after St. Mark’s alumnus, Stuart K. Patrick ’57. The lab I worked in is unique because it works with an organism that is very rarely used in research: Hydractinia
Hydractinia are invertebrates that live on hermit crab shells. These organisms are part of the cnidarian species, and they grow as colonies. Hydractinia grow mat tissue, which is the base of their colony. Within the mat, there are gastrovascular canals that allow cells to flow throughout the colony. Some Hydractinia have stolons, branched stem-like structures, that extend from their mat. Hydractinia also have polyps that protrude from the top of their mat. These polyps are tubes surrounded by tentacles that are used to consume food. In addition to the polyps that help the Hydractinia eat, there are reproductive polyps that can be used to tell whether the colony is male or female. This image illustrates the development of a Hydractinia embryo to a colony. The image shows what an adult polyp looks like, in addition to both the male and female sexual polyps. (more…)