Humans will be immortal if we can solve the mystery of a regenerating jellyfish, claims the scientist leading research into the species. “Once we determine how the jellyfish rejuvenates itself…my opinion is that we will evolve and become immortal ourselves,” Dr. Shin Kubota of Kyoto University told the New York Times Wednesday.
The Turritopsis Nutricula, or ‘Immortal Jellyfish’, is the only multi-celled creature that does not die after reaching maturity, instead returning to a youthful state. It can regenerate itself if it is violently killed, and reproduce by itself. Dr. Kubota believes he has isolated the key to the animal’s unique ability in its tentacle cells, and that in 10-20 years it will be fully understood, and transferable to people.
Scientists agree the jellyfish can have great benefits for humanity. “These cells are in our body but dormant when we need them," Dr. Matthias Obst, a biological scientist at Gothenburg University who studied the species, told Metro. “The toolkit is the same, it’s a case of finding the gene that switches on the protein that regenerates.”
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This would make human organs stronger and resistant to cancer. “It has a lot of potential to extend the lifespan of tissue, if not make it immortal,” Obst claims, suggesting a difference of “hundreds of years.”
The implications of such extended lifespans are already being studied at the British Future of Humanity Institute. “I don’t think overpopulation will be a serious challenge," researcher Dr. Stuart Armstrong told Metro, anticipating a limit on new children. “If we solve ageing by improving cell performance there will be little adjustment – it will be similar people in a similar society. The only problem could be that immortality is less exciting when we actually have it.”