The hydra is a small invertebrate animal that lives in freshwater, a relative of jellyfish and corals. The main feature of this aquatic animal is its ability, probably unparalleled in the animal kingdom, to very efficiently regenerate the cells and tissues of its body once they are damaged.
Even by cutting a hydra in half, the animal is able to regenerate in a few days, a characteristic that certainly does not make it immortal but is certainly extraordinary. A new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, has clarified several aspects of this cell regeneration process.
Researchers have identified three stem cell lines that turn into nerves, muscles or other tissues. To achieve this, the researchers performed a RNA sequencing of 25,000 single sun cells to follow their genetic trajectory.
The researchers also identified the genes involved in these processes, genes that will be the focus of further research in the near future. The research could also be useful to better understand the neurodegenerative diseases of humans, according to the researchers.
In particular, researchers are interested in understanding how their nervous system regenerates: this information could help us to understand why, for example, we humans, once the brain is hurt, have enormous difficulties regenerating it, differently from hydra.