Scientists Unlock Genetic Code of Immortal Jellyfish in Search of Secrets to Reverse Aging
Researchers have identified some of the DNA that gives the T. dohrnii jellyfish its age-defying abilities, uncovering important keys to rejuvenation.
Scientists in Spain have unlocked the genetic code of the "immortal jellyfish" -- a creature capable of repeatedly reverting into a juvenile state -- in hopes of unearthing the secret to their unique longevity, and find new clues to human aging, reports CNN.
Excerpt from CNN: In their study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Maria Pascual-Torner, Victor Quesada and colleagues at the University of Oviedo mapped the genetic sequence of Turritopsis dohrnii, the only known species of jellyfish able to repeatedly revert back into a larval stage after sexual reproduction. Although many types of jellyfish have some capacity to reverse aging and revert to a larval stage, most lose this ability once they reach sexual maturity, the authors wrote. Not so for T. dohrnii. "We've known about this species being able to do a little evolutionary trickery for maybe 15-20 years," said Monty Graham, a jellyfish expert and director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography.
According to the Wall Street Journal, marine biologist Maria Pascual Torner, one of the lead authors and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oviedo in Spain, where the research was done, said the focus was to better understand the mechanisms of rejuvenation.
"It’s a mistake to think we will have immortality like this jellyfish, because we are not jellyfish," she said. "But it’s possible something in the immortal jellyfish’s evolutionary trick can be used to better understand the pathologies of aging," she said.
Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal: One of the team’s biggest challenges was finding some of the needle-sized jellyfish in the ocean, which they finally did off the Italian coast, said Dr. Pascual Torner. The scientists compared their genome mapping of T. dohrnii to that of a closely related species that isn’t known to have post-reproductive rejuvenation. The results revealed key molecular mechanisms behind the rejuvenation of the immortal jellyfish, the study said. The research suggests T. dohrnii is potentially better at repairing and replicating its DNA and maintaining its stem cells.
The Economist writes that billionaires seeking eternal life (and sponsorship of startup companies in this field suggests there are several of them around) could do worse than study Turritopsis dohrnii, known colloquially as "the immortal jellyfish".
Excerpt from the Economist: Pulling this trick off does, though, involve a lot of genetic jiggery pokery. And that is the subject of a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Maria Pascual-Torner and Dido Carrero, of Oviedo University, in Spain, and their colleagues. By comparing the genome of T. dohrnii with that of a related, but mortal species, T. rubra, and also studying which genes are active during the process of rejuvenation, they have been able to identify some of the DNA that gives T. dohrnii its age-defying abilities.
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