Maybe 2 years ago I came across an article that talked about the only creature that human scientists know that can actually reverse the senescence process. This animal is the Turritopsis nutricula, a type of Jellyfish.
The wikipedia article on the Nutricula HERE…
Turritopsis nutricula, the immortal jellyfish, is a hydrozoan whose medusa, or jellyfish, form can revert to the polyp stage after becoming sexually mature. It is the only known case of a metazoan capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature, colonial stage after having reached sexual maturity as a solitary stage. It does this through the cell development process of transdifferentiation. Cell transdifferentiation is when the jellyfish “alters the differentiated state of the cell and transforms it into a new cell”. In this process the medusa of the immortal jellyfish is transformed into the polyps of a new polyp colony. First, the umbrella reverts itself and then the tentacles and mesoglea get resorbed. The reverted medusa then attaches itself to the substrate by the end that had been at the opposite end of the umbrella and starts giving rise to new polyps to form the new colony. Theoretically, this process can go on indefinitely, effectively rendering the jellyfish biologically immortal, although in nature, mostTurritopsis, like other medusae, are likely to succumb to predation or disease in the plankton stage, without reverting to the polyp form. No single specimen has been observed for any extended period, so it is not currently possible to estimate the age of an individual, and so even if this species has the potential for immortality, there is no laboratory evidence of many generations surviving from any individual.
The medusa of Turritopsis nutricula is bell-shaped, with a maximum diameter of about 4.5 millimetres (0.18 in) and is about as tall as it is wide. The jelly in the walls of the bell is uniformly thin, except for some thickening at the apex. The relatively large stomach is bright red and has a cruciform shape in cross section. Young specimens 1 mm in diameter have only eight tentacles evenly spaced out along the edge, while adult specimens have 80-90 tentacles. The medusa (jellyfish) is free-living in the plankton.Description
Turritopsis nutricula also has a bottom-living polyp form, or hydroid, which consists of stolons that run along the substrate, and upright branches with feeding polyps that can produce medusa buds. These polyps develop over a few days into tiny 1 mm medusae, which are liberated and swim free from the parent hydroid colony.
Images of both the medusa and polyp of the closely related species Turritopsis rubra from New Zealand can be found online. Until a recent genetic study, it was thought that Turritopsis rubra and Turritopsis nutricula were the same. It is not known whether or not T. rubra medusae can also transform back into polyps.
Distribution and range
Turritopsis is believed to have originated in the Caribbean but has spread all over the world, and has speciated into several populations that are easy to distinguish morphologically, but whose species distinctions have recently been verified by a study and comparison of mitochondrial ribosomal gene sequences. Turritopsis are found in temperate to tropical regions in all of the world’s oceans.Turritopsis is believed to be spreading across the world as ships are discharging ballast water in ports. Since the species is immortal, the number of individuals could be rising fast. “We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion” said Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute scientist Dr. Maria Pia Miglietta.
The eggs develop in gonads of female medusae, which are located in the walls of the manubrium (stomach). Mature eggs are presumably spawned and fertilized in the sea by sperm produced and released by male medusae, as is the case for most hydromedusae, although the related species Turritopsis rubra seems to retain fertilized eggs until the planula stage. Fertilized eggs develop into planula larvae, which settle onto the sea floor (or even the rich marine communities that live on floating docks), and develop into polyp colonies (hydroids). The hydroids bud new jellyfishes, which are released at about 1 mm in size and then grow and feed in the plankton, becoming sexually mature after a few weeks (the exact duration depends on the ocean temperature; at 20 °C (68 °F) it is 25 to 30 days and at 22 °C (72 °F) it is 18 to 22 days).
Most jellyfish species have a relatively fixed life span, which varies by species from hours to many months (long-lived mature jellyfish spawn every day or night; the time is also fairly fixed and species-specific). The medusa of Turritopsis nutricula is the only form known to have developed the ability to return to a polyp state, by a specific transformation process that requires the presence of certain cell types (tissue from both the jellyfish bell surface and the circulatory canal system). Careful laboratory experiments have revealed that all stages of the medusae, from newly released to fully mature individuals, can transform back into polyps. The transforming medusa is characterized first by deterioration of the bell and tentacles, with subsequent growth of a perisarc sheet and stolons, and finally feeding polyps. Polyps further multiply by growing additional stolons, branches and then polyps, to form colonial hydroids. This ability to reverse the life cycle (in response to adverse conditions) is probably unique in the animal kingdom, and allows the jellyfish to bypass death, rendering Turritopsis nutricula potentially biologically immortal. Studies in the laboratory showed that 100% of specimens could revert to the polyp stage, but so far the process has not been observed in nature, in part because the process is quite rapid and field observations at the right moment in time are unlikely. In spite of this remarkable ability, mostTurritopsis medusae are likely to fall victim to the general hazards of life as plankton, including being eaten by other animals, or succumbing to disease.
Benefits for humans
The Turritopsis nutricula’s cell development method of transdifferentiation has inspired scientists to find a way to make stem cells use this process for renewing damaged or dead tissue in humans.
From Discovery News website …
‘IMMORTAL’ ANIMALS REVEAL ANTI-AGING SECRETS
- Analysis by Jennifer Viegas
- Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:56 PM ET
Some animals and plants that reproduce asexually “can in principle achieve essentially eternal life,” according to a University of Gothenburg press release.
Scientists at the university are studying such species to find out how they avoid aging. So far, one chemical appears to be key: telomerase. This is an enzyme that protects DNA. It is more active in the longest-lived people, so its benefits likely extend throughout the animal kingdom.
The animals that can possibly achieve immortality under ideal conditions, such as sea squirts, certain corals, Hydra, and Turritopsis nutricula (the immortal jellyfish), often activate telomerase. Helen Nilsson Sköld of the Department of Marine Ecology, University of Gothenburg, and colleague Matthias Obst are studying sea squirts and starfish to learn more about how these marine creatures seem to ward off aging.
Out of the animal immortality A-list, sea squirts and starfish have genes that most closely resemble those of humans.
“Animals that clone themselves, in which part of an individual’s body is passed on to the next generations, have particularly interesting conditions related to remaining in good health to persist,” Sköld was quoted as saying in the press release. “This makes it useful to study these animals in order to understand mechanisms of aging in humans.”
“My research has shown that sea squirts rejuvenate themselves by activating the enzyme telomerase, and in this way extending their chromosomes and protecting their DNA,” she added. “They also have a special ability to discard ‘junk’ from their cells. Older parts of the animal are quite simply broken down, and are then partially recycled when new and healthy parts grow out from the adult bodies.”
Starfish are also amazingly immune to problems that affect the rest of us. If they lose a body part, for example, many species can simply grow another one. Reproduction involves tearing apart their bodies, somewhat akin to growing a new plant from a broken off piece of a “mother plant.”
Eternal life, from an evolutionary standpoint, however, has a big drawback. Due to asexual reproduction, the species as a whole retains very low genetic variation. This means they could be particularly vulnerable to climate change and not enjoy immortality after all.
Scientists are therefore rushing to study such species, which may hold the secrets of increasing our own longevity. It would be a colossal human mistake if our pollution, habitat encroachment and other activities erased our chances of learning more about nature’s anti-aging secrets.
Me: This is what the scientists are saying about it’s age reversing powers…”undergo a sort of reverse metamorphosis back to its youthful form as a stalk-like polyp” and “infinite do-overs is a process called transdifferentiation, which turns one type of cell into another. While other animals can undergo limited transdifferentiation to regenerate organs (salamandars can regrow limbs, for example), Turritopsi is the only one that can regenerate its entire body.”
From this scientific article from Science Pub HERE…
Transdifferentiation occurs when a non-stem cell turns itself into another type of cell. But, it is not clear if stem cells are involved in this immortality or not. As my opinion, the transdifferentiation in Turritopsis nutricula has related mechanism to stem cell when the life cycle reverted. It is important to reveal the relationship of this Turritopsis nutricula transdifferentiation and stem cell. Transdifferentiation is rare, and when it does occur, it most commonly occurs in parts of the organsism, like in the eye of the salamander. However, the immortal jellyfish has incorporated transdifferentiation into its lifecycle. In the process, all of the old cells are regenerated. At the end of the cycle, the immortal jellyfish is a young polyp, ready to start life anew (Wendy, 2009).
In the laboratory, 100% of these medusae regularly undergo this change. The cells that accomplish the building of a new stolon are probably those of the exumbrella. However, it is not known whether the sensory cells, myoepithelial cells, and cnidocytes are derived from the exumbrella or the endodermal component.
Germline stem cell is the cell in the earliest of the cell stage. It is possible to inject the germline stem cell into adult human body to get the eternal life (Ma Hongbao 2007). However, the reveal of the transdifferentiation mechanism of the jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula will offer the chance to explore the possibility of the eternal life for human.
This is done through a cell change in the external screen, exumbrella. In it’s life cycle, the medusa is transformed into a stolon and the polyps into a hydroid colony. The umbrella turns inside out; middle section and tentacles are reabsorbed before the polyp spawns. Stolons form two days before the polyps differentiate.
It can do this because it can alter the differentiated state of a cell, transforming it into another cell type, called transdifferentiation, and it is usually seen only when parts of an organ regenerate.
In this transdifferentiation process, the medusa is transformed into the stolons and polyps of a hydroid colony. First, the umbrella everts and the tentacles and mesoglea are resorbed. The everted medusa attach to the substrate by the end that had been at the opposite end of the umbrella, and spawning occurs shortly thereafter. The cnidarian then secretes a perisarc and stolons. Two days after the stolons are first seen, polyps differentiate.
Conclusion: For this article post, I wanted to state first that I want to leave all of the talk for the application of human immortality possibilities to other scientists but I wanted to focus on the possibility of using the ability of the Nutricula on height increase. If we can figure out the entire mechanism of transdifferentiation, I would be willing to bet that we can figure out the trigger signals that cause the cells to change into the type that we desire.
Theoretically, if we can get the right signals triggered, we can get the obsteoblasts and even the osteoclasts in the human bone which are live organisms to revert back into chondrocytes, original mesenchynaml stem cells, and cartilage cells. If we can get the bones cells to use transdifferentiation to revert to cartilage cells, get others to turn into chondrocytes, and get another layer of bone cells into stem cells, we can create growth plate cartilage in places in our body again, and that would lead to natural height increase as before. The hard cortical bone matrix made of collagen and calcium and mineral deposits can be reabsorbed into the body and it is replaced by the cartilage.