Tech

This Creature Could Hold The Key To Eternal Life

"Squidgy"

We're not sure if this is a strictly scientific term, but if we were describing sea anemones, we'd say they were "squidgy".

And "immortal". 

Yep. It transpires that these soft-bodied critters (they're animals, not plants), clinging to ocean rocks, waiting to paralyse passing fish, hold the potential for eternal life.

"As far as we know, these are immortal animals," Dan Rokhsar, professor of genetics at the University of California, Berkeley, told the BBC. "They live a very long time - one was documented to have lived 100 years. They don't have old age. They live forever and proliferate, just getting bigger."

Their incredible, unusual structure allows them to regrow any aspect of their body, from limbs to mouth (which doubles as an anus). If an anemone were kept in a safe environment free from predators and with a plentiful food source, it could theoretically keep replenishing cells and living in perpetual youth.

"You should see tumours in these animals, but we have very few descriptions of that. They are constantly replenishing themselves without getting cancer," said Rokhsar. "If I look at a sea anemone today and compare it to a week later the same structure will be there but many of the cells will have been replaced."

The frustration for Rokhsar and his team is that they have no idea how the anemones replenish their cells in such a way - let alone identifying how the process might be harnessed to help human cellular systems.

"We would love to be able to find a gene or pathway that allows it to avoid ageing," said Rokhsar. 

So you can forget any ideas you might have been hatching about harvesting, eating or even so much as licking anemones, okay? Leave that to the scientists.

(Images: Rex)

[Via: BBC]