Why do we get older? When do we die and why? Is there a life without aging? 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 aging in humans.The study carried out by Kiel University together with the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH) will be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Hydra -- mysteriously immortal
The tiny freshwater polyp Hydra does not show any signs of aging and is potentially immortal. There is a rather simple biological explanation for this: these animals exclusively reproduce by budding rather than by mating. A prerequisite for such vegetative-only reproduction is that each polyp contains stem cells capable of continuous proliferation. Without these stem cells, the animals could not reproduce any more. Due to its immortality, Hydra has been the subject of many studies regarding aging processes for several years.