‘Immortal Jellyfish’ could boost discoveries about human aging | Smart News

Immortal Jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii) are smaller than your little fingernail.
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In oceans around the world, a tiny species of jellyfish – smaller than your little fingernail – is displaying remarkable abilities to defy death. After reaching sexual maturity, this jellyfish can return to its juvenile stage and mature again – a feat akin to a butterfly turning back into a caterpillar, then metamorphosing back into a butterfly.

The life cycle of the deep-sea creature could theoretically repeat itself indefinitely, gaining this species, called Turritopsis dohrnii, a nickname: the “immortal jellyfish”.

“We’ve known that this species has been able to do a little evolutionary trickery for maybe 15 to 20 years,” said Monty Graham, jellyfish expert and director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography. Reuters“Julie Steenhuysen. But in a new study, researchers looked at the animal’s genes to find out how it achieves this amazing feat.

In the article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesa team of researchers from the University of Oviedo in Spain have mapped the genetic sequence of the jellyfish, revealing “the key molecular mechanisms behind the rejuvenation of T. dohrniiwrite the scientists. The researchers say their work could help promote the health of aging humans.

Like a typical jellyfish, “immortelle” T. dohrnii begins life as a free-floating larva. It finds a hard surface to attach itself to, such as a rock or shell, and matures into a branching, plant-like polyp. From there, several young jellyfish bud from the polyp and grow into jellyfish or adults.

But here’s the difference: When an adult “immortal jellyfish” is damaged or stressed, instead of dying, it absorbs its own tentacles and becomes a blob that settles to the bottom of the sea, according to London. Natural History Museum. Over the next day and a half, this blob becomes a new polyp, which can then form more jellyfish. So, although T. dohrnii can succumb to a predator, it can thwart the death of old age.

The new study compared T. dohrnii at T.rubra, a related species of jellyfish that normally ages. Compared to its relative, the researchers found, the “immortal jellyfish” has double the amount of genes that repair and protect DNA, writes Jason P. Dinh for new scientist. this allows T. dohrnii to produce more repair proteins.

The authors also found differences in several other genes, including those associated with replication and the stem cell population. The “immortal jellyfish” had mutations that preserved telomeres, or DNA sequences that protect the end of a chromosome and typically shorten with age. new scientist writing. These differences may be the key to the jellyfish’s immortality.

“The most interesting thing is that it’s not a single molecular pathway…it’s a combination of several of them,” said Jan Karlseder, molecular biologist and director of the Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at the Salk Institute. the wall street journalit is Ginger Adams Otis and Alyssa Lukpat. “If we’re going to look for lifespan extension, we can’t just focus on one pathway. That’s not going to be enough. We need to look at many of them and how they synergize.

Researchers say the discovery could help humans, but not in exactly the same way. “It is a mistake to think that we will have immortality like this jellyfish, because we are not jellyfish,” said co-author and marine biologist Maria Pascual Torner. the wall street journal.

However, the authors hope their research could help “find better answers to the many diseases associated with aging that overwhelm us today,” says co-author Carlos López-Otín, a biochemist and molecular biologist at the University of Oviedo, in a statement. A better understanding of these jellyfish genes could inspire regenerative drugs for humans, for example. new scientist.

Further research is needed to better understand the aging process of this jellyfish. For example, it is still unclear if new adult jellyfish are the same individuals as before reverting to their polyp stage, writes Lonnie Lee Hood for Futurism.

“This is one of those papers that I think will open the door to a new avenue of study worth pursuing,” said Graham, who was not involved in the research. Reuters.

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