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Can Jellyfish Hold the Secret to the Fountain of Youth?

Published October 22, 2014 2:06 PM by Brian Garavaglia
The fountain of youth and eternal life has been something that has been sought and spoken about for a number of years. We still often hear the term, "anti-aging" used in reference to various types of supplements that are frequently advertised, as if using these supposed products will reverse aging or prevent any further aging in the person.  However, some recent research has provided a level of authenticity to claims of age-enhancement. 

However, who would have thought that the answer to some of these questions may be found in the jellyfish. One researcher thinks that these marine animals may be able to provide important contributions to our knowledge regarding aging. These gelatinous, strange-looking aquatic forms of life are now being looked at for holding some possible answers to the questions for life-enhancement. 

A professor at Kyoto University in Japan, who has been studying jellyfish for over three decades, feels that these creatures may hold important clues toward potentially enhancing human life expectancy. Shin Kubota has been studying the jellyfish since 1979. According to Kubota, one type of jellyfish has a particular quality to regenerate itself and take on a level of immortality. The type of jellyfish that has this potential is referred to as the scarlet jellyfish. He stated that this species of jellyfish have the ability to "rejuvenate" themselves.  Furthermore, he has also noted that there are two other species of jellyfish that also hold this potential. 

According to Kubota, the adult scarlet jellyfish, referred to as a medusa, when injured, goes to the ocean floor. However, instead of dying, it goes through a process of rejuvenation.  It goes back into an infant state of development referred to as a polyp. The polyp continues to develop back into the adult medusa.  Kubota, in his laboratory work with this species of jellyfish has been able to successfully make the jellyfish rejuvenate 12 times in his laboratory studies.     

Kubota states that genetically the jellyfish and humans are not that different. Therefore, he is hopeful that the studies will result in finding out further information about this regenerative ability found in the scarlet jellyfish that may be able to be applied to human beings, which may ultimately help enhance their longevity. However, the research is still in its early stages. However, it does lend a level of excitement, witnessing one living species that may have some level of immortal ability being able to possibly lend some secrets that may help human beings enhance the overall life expectancy as well.

One note of caution has to be mentioned. Kubota himself recognizes the possibilities that this research may hold for human development. However, at this time there is still much more research and many questions that need to be answered. Yet, there are some products that are currently being advertised as anti-aging or longevity enhancing products that are taking advantage of the scientific findings of the jellyfish research and marketing themselves has having "the chemical compound" that is found in jellyfish and that will enhance human longevity. So watch out for those products that are attempting to use scientific research, such as has been discussed here, and often misrepresenting that research as if it were definitive in an attempt to sell a product that has no proven standards.     


Said-Moorhouse, L. & Sealy, A. (2014, Aug 29). Does 'immortal' jellyfish have the secret to everlasting life? CNN World.


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About this Blog

    Brian Garavaglia, PhD
    Occupation: Long-term care administrator
    Setting: Sterling Heights, Mich.
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