Hydractinia, a strange, tube-shaped animal that lives on the shells of crabs, is completely immune to aging. Scientists have never been able to pinpoint the reason why these sea creatures were immune from aging. New research has finally provided an explanation. According to the new study, which is published in Cell Reports, Hydractinia can actually use aging to grow a completely new body.
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This development gives scientists a much better understanding of how these immortal creatures continue to live on, even when they probably should have died. According to Newsweek, Charles Rotimo, co-author of the paper and the director of the Intramural Research Program at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), says studies like these can open new doors to our understanding of how aging in the human body works.
Previously, scientists discovered that Hydractinia have special stem cells that it uses to regenerate tissue within its body. The stem cells can change and transform into any cell type found in the body of the creature. More specialized cells, like those found in muscle and heart tissue, can’t do this. This is what allows the immortal sea creatures to grow new body parts.
The researchers continued to dig deeper, discovering that one particular set of genes seems to be related to the immortality of this weird little creature. The genes enable the creature to participate in “senescence,” allowing it to repair or regrow its body parts. When this gene set was removed from the Hydractinia, they were no longer able to regenerate body parts or new stem cells.
The hope is that better understanding how creatures like the Hydractinia, and even other creatures that utilize similar methods to regrow body parts and repair damage, will help us understand how our own cells age and perhaps help us find a way to slow down aging.
The post These bizarre tube-shaped animals are immortal, and now scientists know why appeared first on BGR.