July 25, 2024

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These strange tube animals are immortal, and now scientists know why

These strange tube animals are immortal, and now scientists know why

Hydractinia, a strange tube-shaped animal that lives on crab shells, is completely immune to aging. However, the exact reasons why these immortal marine creatures are immune to aging have always puzzled scientists. Now, though, new research seems to have finally given us an answer. According to the new studywhich was published in Cell ReportsHydractinia can actually use aging to grow a brand new body.

This development gives scientists a much better understanding of how these immortal creatures continued to live, even when they could potentially die. according to NewsweekStudies like these can open new doors to our understanding of how aging works in the human body, says Charles Rottimo, co-author of the paper and director of the Internal Research Program at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).

Image source: 3d_vicka / Adobe

Scientists previously discovered that Hydractinia has special stem cells that it uses to regenerate tissues within the body. These stem cells are capable of changing and transforming into any type of cell present within the body of the organism. More specialized cells, such as those in muscle tissue and the heart, cannot do this. This is what allows immortal sea creatures to grow new body parts.

The researchers continued to dig deeper, and discovered that a specific set of genes seemed to be linked to this strange little creature’s immortality. These genes allow the creature to participate in “aging”, which essentially allows it to repair and regrow body parts. They found that when this set of genes was removed, Hydractinia could not regrow body parts and regenerate new stem cells.

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The hope is that a better understanding of how creatures like Hydractinia, and even other creatures that use similar methods to regrow body parts and repair damage, will help us understand how our cells age and possibly help us find a way to slow aging.