While I was going through Digg today I came across another story written about the jellyfish which many biologists claim is “biologically immortal”. This is the Turritopsis Dohrnii. The story was written for the online website for The New York Times written by Nathaniel Rich entitled “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?“. Now, I have already looked at this jelly fish before in a previous post entitled “An Immortal Animal Turritopsis Nutricula And How To Apply It For Height Increase“. With this post I was really guessing at what it could do. With this new article I’ve read, I think my understanding on how to use the unique ability of the Jellyfish for our endeavor to increase height has gotten a little better.
As of right now, I am not sure if these two jelly fish types with different names, one being Nutricula and the other being Dohrnii are two different species or maybe two different sub-species. But that is not the point.
Analysis: What this article shows is that overall, the number of genes in a organisms genome is almost the exactly the same for most of the species in an entire kingdom, ie Animal. Genetically, we are very similar to even small animals and the jellyfish. The key difference we see seems to be from two previous articles I have written before we saw that the human species has around only 25,000 genes that were found in the Human Genome Project. Given the amazing variety of size, shapes, and forms our animal cousins can turn and morph into, there must be far more to determining our phenotypes besides just the genes. This is why I found the articles on “Hidden DNA” a key point to make. It is similar to the concepts in astronomy known as “dark matter” and “dark energy”. We know so little of dark energy or dark matter but reent findings show that they seem to make up most of the what is really going on in the Universe. Similarly, what was common scientific dogma even 20 years ago is being changed with the discovery that there is more to determining what makes us Human is more than just the genes in our genomes. There is also the microRNA, which are tiny strands of genetic material that regulate gene expression. Remember from our previous research on trying to get the progenitor cells to differentiate correctly into the right types of cell type to allow for our own body to form new chondrocytes, cartilage, and growth plates. We saw also that there is a clear correlation between cancer and human growth or increased height. People who are taller generally have a higher chance of developing cancer, whether it is just from the statistical fact that there is more cell numbers in their body, or whether it is because from the individual’s intrinsice rate of cell replication and proliferation. One thing which I have already been concerned about is whether if we do take the gene therapy approach to reactivating the body’s natural ability to cause chondrocyte or osteocyte proliferation, that might also cause the cell proliferation to grow out of control causing tumors which become malignant. There is a clear reason why nature chose to put a limit to the size that humans can possibly reach, and it may not be just from the effects of the laws of physics, ie. gravitational force. We note from certain families and orders within the animal kingdom like fish and reptiles that they technically never stop growing, but go through a process called “indeterminant growth” which I wrote in a previous post entitled “Indeterminate Growth And Mammals“. The growth in length and width never completely stop but does slow down over time. It would appear also that the rate of growth is determined by the size of the creature too which means that as the creature got bigger, it took a lot more energy to maintain the same rate and level of growth. So the rate of growth HAVE TO decrease to fit within the law of mathematics which I wrote before can be modeled by the simplest form of Differential Equation delT/delt = A*T. Going back to the Jellyfish, the process it uses is the generally termed transdifferentiation where one type of cell that has already reached the usually accepted biological dogma of differentiation process turns into another end within a differentiation process. This means that an adipocyte can’t turn into a chondrocyte. We know that technically the human body does have to rejuvenate and replace all of it’s cells after some time cycle. Most laymen say the time is 7 years. I am not sure about that but we can assume that it is a set amount of time. It shows that the genes may actually be controlled by the microRNA (miRNA). If the real ability for the Turritopsis’s ability to transdifferentiate from one specialized cell type to another is because of these miRNA which I have thought is the real control behind the gene expression. Then it gives me hope to know that there might be another layer of scientific study which we have not even reached yet. Going off of the axiom that miRNA is what turns on and off the activation of certain types of genes in the nucleus (or mitochondria) of a organism, what we should be doing is not manipulating the genes, but manipulating the hidden genetic material, specifically these microRNA. I have stated before that for adults, gene therapy will not allow for complete body transformation and allow for growth plates to regrow back for natural height growth .Sam Snyder whom I emailed also agreed upon this fact. However, from the combined knowledge that there is an even finer more subtle level of genetic dynamics going on may signal the possibility within the next few decades that we may indeed be able to find the right combination of miRNA to stimulate and modulate to revert cells in certain parts of the body to turn into different types and cause complete body change like the spontaneous formation of natural growth plates again causing natural height growth. We might even be able to figure out the way to reverse the process of senescence as well, just like what the Japanese researcher believed was possible.
From the article…
“…how the species — at any stage of its development — could transform itself back to a polyp, the organism’s earliest stage of life…”
“…the rejuvenation of Turritopsis dohrnii and some other members of the genus is caused by environmental stress or physical assault. We know that, during rejuvenation, it undergoes cellular transdifferentiation, an unusual process by which one type of cell is converted into another — a skin cell into a nerve cell, for instance. (The same process occurs in human stem cells.)…”
“…But we still don’t understand how it ages in reverse…..the Small’s Rule: small-bodied organisms are poorly studied relative to larger-bodied organisms…”
“….Like most hydrozoans, Turritopsis passes through two main stages of life, polyp and medusa. A polyp resembles a sprig of dill, with spindly stalks that branch and fork and terminate in buds. When these buds swell, they sprout not flowers but medusas. A medusa has a bell-shaped dome and dangling tentacles…..An adult medusa produces eggs or sperm, which combine to create larvae that form new polyps. In other hydroid species, the medusa dies after it spawns. A Turritopsismedusa, however, sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor, where its body folds in on itself — assuming the jellyfish equivalent of the fetal position. The bell reabsorbs the tentacles, and then it degenerates further until it becomes a gelatinous blob. Over the course of several days, this blob forms an outer shell. Next it shoots out stolons, which resemble roots. The stolons lengthen and become a polyp. The new polyp produces new medusas, and the process begins again…”
“…But the Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, suggested otherwise. Though it had been estimated that our genome contained more than 100,000 protein-coding genes, it turned out that the number was closer to 21,000…..From a genetic perspective, apart from the fact that we have two genome duplications, “we look like a damn jellyfish.”
“….Peterson is now studying microRNAs (commonly denoted as miRNA), tiny strands of genetic material that regulate gene expression. MiRNA act as an on-off switch for genes. When the switch is off, the cell remains in its primitive, undifferentiated state. When the switch turns on, a cell assumes its mature form: it can become a skin cell, for instance, or a tentacle cell. MiRNA also serve a crucial role in stem-cell research — they are the mechanism by which stem cells differentiate. Most cancers, we have recently learned, are marked by alterations in miRNA. Researchers even suspect that alterations in miRNA may be a cause of cancer. If you turn a cell’s miRNA “off,” the cell loses its identity and begins acting chaotically — it becomes, in other words, cancerous….”
“…Hydrozoans provide an ideal opportunity to study the behavior of miRNA for two reasons. They are extremely simple organisms, and miRNA are crucial to their biological development….”