Hydra’s Immortality is not Myth: Polyps Genetically Reprogram Skin Cells into Neurons

07/12/2015 - 3 minutes

Relatives of the Jellyfish, researchers at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) have now proven the regenerative abilities of Hydra involved reprogramming cells. Does this have any implications for Neurodegenerative disease?

hydra_geneva_regenerationRemember the Greek myth of Hydra? Amongst other twelve labours, Hercules had to slay the nine-headed monster Hydra which, in case nine jaws weren’t enough, had the capacity of regenerating two heads everytime one was cut off…Well, it turns out that the myth wasn’t that far from reality.

Researchers at University of Geneva (UNIGE) have discovered the polyps of freshwater Hydra are indeed capable of reforming a complete individual from any fragment of its body. The ancient Greeks just miscalculated the proportions – i.e. the tubular polyp is not very monstrous at all, being just a couple of centimeters long (even if they are still voracious predators, nonetheless).

The regenerative abilities of this animal were on biologists’ target, as Hydra don’t seem to senesce or die of old age, in part due to its well known semi-regenerative capabilities termed Morphallaxis

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