Longevity Gene Makes Hydra Immortal and Humans Grow Older
Why do we get older? When do we die and why? Is there a life without ageing? For centuries, science has been fascinated by these questions. Now researchers from Kiel (Germany) have examined why the polyp Hydra is immortal – and unexpectedly discovered a link to ageing in humans.
“Surprisingly, our search for the gene that causes Hydra to be immortal led us to the so-called FoxO gene,” says Anna-Marei Böhm, first author of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The FoxO gene exists in all animals and humans and has been known for years. However, until now it was not known why human stem cells become fewer and inactive with increasing age, which biochemical mechanisms are involved and if FoxO played a role in ageing. In order to find the gene, the research group isolated Hydra’s stem cells and then screened all of their genes.