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Tiny sea creature unlocks the secrets of healing and aging


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Hydractinia symbiolongicarpus, a tiny sea creature, regenerates an entire new body from only its mouth.

It demonstrates that the fundamental biological processes of healing and aging are intertwined.

Stem cells in humans mainly act in development, but highly regenerative organisms like Hydractinia use stem cells throughout their lifetimes.

Special stem cells in Hydractinia can transform into other cell types, and are therefore useful for creating new body parts.

Researchers scanned the RNA from Hydractinia for sequences like those of senescence-related genes in humans.

When deleted a gene, the animals' ability to develop senescent cells was blocked, and without the senescent cells, the animals did not develop new stem cells and could not regenerate.

The animals ejected the senescent cells out of their mouths. While humans can't get rid of aging cells that easily.

"By studying some of our most distant animal relatives, we can unravel the secrets of regeneration and aging," - Andy Baxevanis, study author.

Study by National Institutes of Health published in Cell Reports.

Insights on the evolution of ageing and may help advance regenerative medicine

Mentioned in this article:

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Andy Baxevanis

Senior Scientist at National Human Genome Research Institute and Director of Computational Biology at NIH

Cell Reports

Journal publishing research papers across a broad range of disciplines within the life sciences.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Medical research agency that supports scientific studies

Tiny sea creature unlocks the secrets of healing and aging