This Jellyfish May Actually Make Humans Immortal!

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Found in the waters of both the Mediterranean Sea and Japan, a tiny invertebrate called Turritopsis dohrnii is a new hope of bringing long-life to humans.

Formerly known as Turritopsis nutricula, scientists first discovered the immortal jellyfish in 1883, when they found it swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.

It was actually the only animal known to be biologically capable of reverting back to sexual immaturity after reaching adulthood.

But it would take another century for scientists to discover the species’ unique abilities ...

They discovered that the immortal jellyfish’s long life wasn’t some otherworldly blessing, but an attempt to save itself from the dangers of the deep sea.

Turritopsis dohrnii, like any other type of jellyfish, starts out as larva developed from a fertilized egg to create what is known as a planula.

These free-swimming planula go off on their own, eventually settling on the ocean floor to create a colony of polyps, which grow upward from the seafloor to form a cylindrical shape. From these polyps, a medusa, or jellyfish, forms, which breaks off from the branch after reaching adulthood in a matter of weeks.

When fully grown, this jellyfish measures 4.5 mm: about the width of your pinky fingernail.

The newly adult jellyfish is recognized by its bright red stomach, easily visible through a transparent, bell-shaped body lined with 90 tentacles around its edges.

This tiny being may not seem like much, but its singular survival skill allows it to adapt to various environmental threats, from physical harm to starvation.

Let's give an example...

For example, let’s say a Turritopsis faces a lack of food. Your average jellyfish would simply die of starvation, but not this one. Instead, it will attempt to get a “second chance” at life by reverting back to sexual immaturity.

On a cellular level, this means that the immortal jellyfish will effectively recycle its existing cells to form a new self in a process known as “transdifferentiation.”

In terms of physical process, this means that the jellyfish will retract its tentacles and shrink its body, and then drop to the ocean floor. From there, the jellyfish regresses into a sexually immature larva and forms new polyps until it reaches adulthood once again.

While researchers still have a long way to go in understanding just how the process which puts the “immortal” in “immortal jellyfish,” can work to benefit humans, big strides are being made one step at a time.

Transdifferentiation is especially exciting for researchers as it doesn’t require a stem cell to form a new cellular makeup. As the non-stem cells found within each jellyfish can become practically any other type of cell through this process, scientists and researchers are looking to this biological marvel for clues on how to regenerate damaged human tissue to treat a wide variety of medical ailments.

Taking cues from Mother Nature herself, the scientific community is looking to the Turritopsis dohrnii for new ways to manipulate cells.

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