Immortal jellyfish DNA may help reverse human aging

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Scientists in Spain have cracked the genetic code of the immortal jellyfish — a creature capable of repeatedly regenerating itself to a juvenile state — in hopes of unlocking the secret to its unique longevity and finding new clues to human aging.

In their study, published 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 dohrniithe only known species of jellyfish capable of repeatedly reverting to a larval stage after sexual reproduction.

Like other types of jellyfish, the T. dohrnii goes through a two-part life cycle, living on the seafloor during an asexual phase, where its main role is to stay alive in times of food shortages. When conditions are right, jellyfish reproduce sexually.

While many types of jellyfish have some ability to reverse aging and return to a larval stage, most lose this ability once they reach sexual maturity, the authors write. not so for T. dohrnii.

The study aimed to understand what makes this jellyfish different by comparing the genetic sequence of T. dohrnii with that of turritopsis rubraa close genetic cousin that lacks the ability to rejuvenate after sexual reproduction.

What they found is that the T. dohrnii it has variations in its genome that might make it better at copying and fixing DNA. They also seem to be better at keeping the ends of chromosomes called telomeres. In humans and other species, telomere length decreases with age.

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