Geneticists have discovered that the freshwater polyp Hydra remains forever young by constantly working gene FoxO, which is also found in humans. If in the future doctors will learn to control its operation, it will bring humanity to the problem of aging.
The research, carried out by German experts from Keele University, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It is known that the hydra do not reproduce sexually and by budding. Therefore, in their bodies, there are always active stem cells, ready to give rise to different tissues in the event that the hydra will cut into pieces or she will begin to asexual reproduction. Scientists have suggested that the presence of stem cells in the bodies of polyps may be related to gene expression FoxO.
To test this hypothesis, the authors studied the hydra with a mutation in this gene. It was found that polyps poorly performing FoxO a lot less active stem cells than their relatives with normal variation of the gene. In addition, the hydra with a mutation FoxO observed irregularities in the immune system, similar to those suffered by the elderly.
FoxO gene is present in all animals, including humans. However, until now its function remain poorly understood. However, the influence of genes on the aging process, scientists have already guessed, since it was known that he was active in people whose age exceeded 100 years. The authors suggested that in humans, as well as that of the hydra, FoxO regulates stem cells.
With age, the number of these cells in people decreases. As a result of the renewal of the various tissues, including heart muscle, suspended, causing them to age-related degeneration. If the conclusion of the researchers is true, then learn to incorporate gene FoxO, experts will be able to influence the stem cells, thus slowing aging.