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Natural World

Scientists find life form that lives forever

December 24, 2015 | Comment icon 22 comments



Hydra never seem to grow old. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Przemyslaw Malkowski
A group of invertebrates known as hydra have the unique ability to regenerate themselves indefinitely.
With a name that matches the multi-headed monster of Greek mythology, hydra are a form of freshwater polyp that resemble a thin tube-like organism with tentacles protruding from one end.

What makes them particularly interesting is the fact that they do not appear to deteriorate with age meaning that there is no practical limit to the amount of time that they can live for.

Biologist Daniel Martinez, who originally set out many years ago to prove that these remarkable creatures must still be subject to the ageing process, has ended up having to admit defeat.
"I do believe that an individual hydra can live forever under the right circumstances," he said.

The key to their unlimited longevity seems to be the fact that their bodies are mostly comprised of stem cells which are capable of continuous division and differentiation. In humans we lose these cells within the first few days of embryonic development whereas the hydra keep them indefinitely.

"Iím hoping this work helps spark another scientist to take a deeper look at immortality," said Martinez. "Perhaps in some other organism that helps bring more light to the mysteries of aging."

Source: Live Science | Comments (22)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Sundew 7 years ago
If science ever discovers the key to immortality I don't think it will be good for man kind. First, the rich and powerful will want to keep it for themselves. They could make man believe what they want them to over generations. Making us there slaves as they just gain more wealth and power. Wait. What? Actually, there are too many people on this planet now as is. People living for ever (or even twice as long as now) and adding thousands more daily, would not work very well for long. We need death in order to keep life going. If people stopped dying today, I think man would be extinct in a coup... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by RabidMongoose 7 years ago
I'm ready to have hydra DNA spliced into my genome ASAP,I want to live forever. I don't care if I grow tentacles and develop an irresistible urge to bathe in pond scum. The Bible advocates periodic fasting and we find people living centuries in it. I wonder......
Comment icon #15 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
The Bible advocates periodic fasting and we find people living centuries in it. I wonder...... There does indeed appear for humans that periodic substantial caloric reduction is associated with lower disease progression and aging parameters, presuming an otherwise healthy environment and a source of clean water. To what degree of decreased disease progression and general whole-body longevity can result for humans, and what might be the optimal types and cycles of caloric reduction needs more study, from what I've heard. It's a complicated subject for complicated organisms. The "answer" is like... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by spud the mackem 7 years ago
The Govenments of the world would kill you off as they couldn't afford to keep paying you a pension and other benefits.
Comment icon #17 Posted by RabidMongoose 7 years ago
There does indeed appear for humans that periodic substantial caloric reduction is associated with lower disease progression and aging parameters, presuming an otherwise healthy environment and a source of clean water. To what degree of decreased disease progression and general whole-body longevity can result for humans, and what might be the optimal types and cycles of caloric reduction needs more study, from what I've heard. It's a complicated subject for complicated organisms. The "answer" is likely to be "answers" Someone living 5000 years ago following a dietary regime including fasts thr... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
Someone living 5000 years ago following a dietary regime including fasts throughout the year would not only have had caloric reduction but higher levels of cold shock proteins due to lower global temperatures. We shouldn't dismiss people living centuries, it might be real. Just a thought... I think that caloric fasts must be done at least each week to have any substantive affect with humans. Recall, for others, that clean, pure water, and many necessary nutrients actually have zero calories. Caloric intake appears, to my knowledge, to be a serious biological problem for humans, especially with... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by PrisonerX 7 years ago
Comment icon #20 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
The secrets, as they are, for extended human longevity seems to be in nature. Why, I ask myself, is this attribute not readily afforded to the crowning achievement of Nature, humans? Why must we die relatively young when some other organisms, so much lower than ourselves, live so much longer? Seems "unfair", as if Nature is saying that the most intelligent MUST die first, as a whole. What is this?! Some type of "evolutionary" thing? Promoting a higher species at the expense of the individual? Allowing some type of rapid evolution by virtue of procreation and death? I don't know. Totally confus... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
It seems that, in Nature, sometimes when the father/mother procreates, they die very soon afterwards. However, there is no such direct correlation with humans, at all.
Comment icon #22 Posted by ChrLzs 7 years ago
So, is this from Deja Vu News? This is quite well known in biology (esp marine biology) circles and has been discussed several times on UM - here I am back in 2012, then almost exactly a year ago in 2014... Did this student suddenly stumble on stuff that's already very well known and then convince that site it was something new? And yes, it has little to do with human genetics (to date) - maybe something will come of it some day, but until then it is just recycling old news. That student needs to do something with his new found knowledge instead of waiting around for hydra to die....


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