Have jellyfish cracked the code of immortality?

TechNews Writer
Mon Oct 18, 2021

Jellyfish are an absolute treat to one’s eyes which might soon turn into a nightmare, should you get stung by one. According to the National Science Foundation, the discovery of “fossil snapshots” found in the rocks indicate that jellyfish are more than 500 million years old. These organisms are 95 percentage water and lack a backbone, blood, and a brain. However, they do have an integrated nervous system adapted to their body plan which controls feeding, movement, and spasm response.

Turritopsis dohrnii, discovered in the 1880s in the Mediterranean Sea is a species of Jellyfish that has the ability to transform into its early stage of development called polyp. These transformed polyps bud out eventually and grows into mature jellyfish. This cycle continues to happen and it successfully bends the principle of mortality by escaping senescence. This is because of the overabundance of FoxO gene expression in Jellyfish. The duration of life of cells is dependent on the expression of this particular gene. Despite escaping cell deterioration that eventually leads to death, they can’t escape death itself in a sense that they could still get killed either by predators or human interference.

Although this species of Jellyfish was first discovered in the Mediterranean, they are now found in oceans around the globe which is believed to be due to movement of cargo and cruise ships. The theory suggests possible movement Jellyfish while ballast water is pumped in and out of these ships.

According to National History Museum, a Japanese scientist Shin Kubota has cultured the immortal jellyfish species that switch between their life cycle stages since the 1990s. This research also recorded observations that showed the rejuvenation of this species up to 10 times, some of which only took a month. This study is believed to be so intensive where the food used to feed the jellyfish is to be precision cut under a microscope so it is small enough. The unique characteristic of this species opens possibilities of extension of this eternal youth to humans. While that sounds extremely far-fetched, the research in this field still opens gates to new and evolved mechanisms of rejuvenation and dare I say, immortality?



Appears in
2021 - Fall - Issue 6