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Scientists may have figured out how the immortal jellyfish lives forever

Updated Oct 20th, 2022 10:47AM EDT
the immortal jellyfish floating in the water
Image: anemone / Adobe

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Immortality has long been sought after. From rumors of a fountain of youth to the possibility of anti-aging medications, being able to reverse aging has been a common ground for scientific experiments for decades. Despite all that work, only one creature that we know of has ever been able to take advantage of immortality. Now, scientists may have finally figured out what makes the immortal jellyfish live so long.

Certain jellyfish can reverse their aging process

A simulated strand of DNA
Scientists looked at the DNA of the immortal jellyfish to learn more about its age-reversal capabilities. Image source:

The immortal jellyfish, more scientifically known as Turritopsis dohrnii, is just half a centimeter long. And at least three species of jellyfish have the capability of aging backward. This “age-reversing” behavior has earned the jellyfish its nickname and has intrigued scientists for years. Now, though, a new study may have discovered some key details about this capability.

To figure out exactly what makes the jellyfish immortal, scientists compared T. dorhnii’s DNA with that of other jellyfish. They hope that this would provide some context to the differences between the two and how T. dorhnii is able to age backward. The researchers published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How the immortal jellyfish could reverse human aging

young man looking at aging self
Harnessing certain genomes from the immortal jellyfish could provide age-reversing properties one day. Image source: Tommaso Lizzul / Adobe

According to the comparisons, there are over 1,000 genes that could provide the age-reversing aspect of the immortal jellyfish’s design. Of these 1,000 genes, the scientists say that one genome specifically seemed to provide two aspects not seen in other jellyfish.

This genome not only silences the polycomb repressive complexes, two families of proteins responsible for gene expression, but it also activates pluripotency. The latter is the capacity of a stem cell to become whatever cell it needs to become, an important aspect of the jellyfish’s long life.

Although called the immortal jellyfish, T. dorhnii doesn’t live forever. And the genes that contribute to the de-aging process most likely work in some kind of combination together. Still, scientists are confident we may be able to gleam something that can help reverse aging in humans to some degree.

It probably won’t grant us immortality, but it could help us slow down the toll that time takes on the human body.

More science coverage: Scientists found a mineral stronger than diamond.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.