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Study: Jellyfish can teach us about age reversal, cancer treatments and more

Jellyfish_082112_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Research on small invertebrates known as hydrozoans back in 1988 may end up holding a key to information on the secrets of eternal life.

Upon observing the organisms he discovered, German marine biology student Christian Sommer learned he had discovered a jellyfish that refused to die.

According to the New York Times, the jellyfish, a species known as Turritopsis dohrnii, seemed to be aging in reverse, and grew younger until it reached its earliest stage of development, and then began its life cycle all over again.

Several biologists in Genoa continued to study jellyfish, and published a paper called “Reversing the Life Cycle” in 1996.

It has since been learned that genetic material inside a jellyfish may even provide information on treatments for cancer. "There’s a shocking amount of genetic similarity between jellyfish and human beings,” molecular paleobiologist Kevin Peterson said, according to Boing Boing.

Gizmodo reports that scientists have built a microchip capable of catching cancer cells in human blood that was inspired by the workings of the jellyfish’s tentacles. Capturing the cancer cells in the blood can provide important information in diagnosing and monitoring cancer, and it can also be used for capturing fetal cells, viruses or bacteria in the blood.

In Japan, 60-year-old scientist Shin Kubota is continuing the study of the species. “Once we determine how the jellyfish rejuvenates itself, we should achieve very great things,” he said, according to the New York Times. “My opinion is that we will evolve and become immortal ourselves.”

Kubota said he could make the jellyfish age in reverse by, basically, attempting to kill it. He poked the jellyfish six times with metal picks until it lay on its side and began twitching. So Kubota stabbed his organism 44 more times. Four days later the jellyfish had rejuvenated into an amoeba. Kubota believes the organism’s secret to eternal life is hidden in its tentacles.

 

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