Hydra is helping scientists solving the mystery of ageing. It’s a small simple fresh-water animal that appears to be immortal. Image credit: CAU/Fraune
Scientists from Kiel University have find out that the small animal, is full of active stem cells that does not show any signs of ageing during all its life.
They related this important phenomenon to the humans aging process and they believe to find a way to develop advanced rejuvenation therapies.
According to Kiel University:
Human longevity gene discovered in Hydra
“Surprisingly, our search for the gene that causes Hydra to be immortal led us to the so-called FoxO gene“, says Anna-Marei Böhm, PhD student and first author of the study. The FoxO gene exists in all animals and humans and has been known for years. However, until now it was not known why human stem cells become fewer and inactive with increasing age, which biochemical mechanisms are involved and if FoxO played a role in ageing. In order to find the gene, the research group isolated Hydra’s stem cells and then screened all of their genes.”
Immortality mechanism of Hydra revealed
The Kiel research team examined FoxO in several genetically modified polyps: Hydra with normal FoxO, with inactive FoxO and with enhanced FoxO. The scientists were able to show that animals without FoxO possess significantly fewer stem cells. Interestingly, the immune system in animals with inactive FoxO also changes drastically. „Drastic changes of the immune system similar to those observed in Hydra are also known from elderly humans“, explains Philip Rosenstiel of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology at UKSH, whose research group contributed to the study.
Hydra is a genus of small simple fresh-water animal possessing radial symmetry. Hydra are predatory animals belonging to the phylum Cnidaria and the class Hydrozoa. They can be found in most unpolluted fresh-water ponds, lakes, and streams in the temperate and tropical regions and can be found by gently sweeping a collecting net through weedy areas. They are multicellular organisms which are usually a few millimetres long and are best studied with a microscope. Biologists are especially interested in Hydra due to their regenerative ability; and that they appear not to age or to die of old age.
source Kiel University, wikipedia