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In the March 14 online version of Nature, UC Irvine biologists Robert Steele and Hans Bode, along with nine other UCI scientists and an international team of researchers, describe the genome sequence of Hydra, a freshwater polyp that has been a staple of biological research for 300 years.

The team discovered Hydra to have about the same number of genes as humans, sharing many of the same ones. Surprisingly, they also found genes linked with Huntington’s disease and with the beta-amyloid plaque formation seen in Alzheimer’s disease. “Having the Hydra genome sequenced also enhances our ability to use it to learn more about the basic biology of stem cells, which are showing great promise for new treatments for a host of injuries and diseases,” said Steele, associate professor and interim chair in biological chemistry.

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