DNA from ‘immortal’ jellyfish may provide clues on human ageing, research finds

1 September 2022

Scientists crack genetic code of the immortal jellyfish. Can it teach us about human ageing? (Credit: Tony Wills / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Researchers in Spain have cracked the genetic code of the immortal jellyfish, a jellyfish smaller than a human fingernail. Scientists hope it can lead to advances in how to treat human ageing. Reuters reports:

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.

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.

“While aging affects most living organisms, the hydrozoan Turritopsis dohrnii is the only species able to rejuvenate repeatedly after sexual reproduction, becoming biologically immortal,” the authors wrote in the paper. “We have identified variants and expansions of genes associated with replication, DNA repair, telomere maintenance, redox environment, stem cell population, and intercellular communication.”

Carlos López-Otín, one of the co-authors of the study, said we shouldn’t expect this understanding of the jellyfish to immediately provide breakthroughs for human immortality. But “from this knowledge we hope to find better answers to the many diseases associated with aging that overwhelm us today”.

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