Advances in stem cell biology have led to the derivation of diverse cell types, yet challenges remain in creating complex tissues and functional organs. Unlike humans, some animals regenerate all missing tissues and organs successfully after dramatic injuries. Studies of organisms with exceptional regenerative capacity, like planarians, could complement in vitro studies and reveal mechanistic themes underlying regeneration on the scale of whole organs and tissues. In this review, we outline progress in understanding planarian organ regeneration, with focus on recent studies of the nervous, digestive, and excretory systems. We further examine molecular mechanisms underlying establishment of diverse cell fates from the planarian stem cell pool. Finally, we explore conceptual directions for future studies of organ regeneration in planarians.
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