Sensational brain regeneration

Amazing ability to regenerate brain structures found scientists have a rather primitive, as previously thought, the inhabitant of the deep sea. An animal with exceptional properties and organization of the nervous system is called the marine ctenophore (Ctenophora).

Outwardly, they are very similar to jellyfish, and this similarity was the reason that zoologists for a long time considered them to belong to the class of jellyfish. Only much later, the ctenophores were assigned to a special class with 6 detachments of its representatives. Ctenophores are much more complexly organized creatures, predators, which require a sufficiently perfect nervous system for hunting, which gives the ability for good orientation and coordination of movements.

These amazing representatives of the marine fauna were studied by a group of scientists from the universities of Florida and Washington, who joined forces with Russian biologists from the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. At the subsequent stages other scientists from Russia, the USA, England and Holland joined the research.

It turned out that the peculiarity of the ctenophore is completely different from that of other representatives of the animal world, the evolutionary path of the development of the nervous system.

According to Leonid Moroz, head of a group of scientists who conducted research at the University of Florida:

These sea creatures are extremely unusual, – so much so that one might think that they have nothing in common with the rest of the fauna inhabiting the Earth. The degree of their uniqueness is so high that they seem to be some kind of alien from other planets. But they exist and live next to us, and we “discover” them anew.

As scientists have established, these animals differ by their “reactive” speed of the processes of post-traumatic regeneration of the nervous system. Some of the representatives of this type of animal are able to fully restore their elementary brain, better known as the aboral organ, within 3.5 days. Scientists also observed an amazing picture in an experiment involving a representative of lobed ctenophores – Bolinopsis, who restored his brain 4 times!

When decoding the genome of ten species of ctenophore scientists used the latest genomic technology and came to the conclusion that they have unique genes that are absent in other animals. Along with this, the marine organism possesses unusual features of gene regulation: they do not have RNA microsequences, which all animals possess without exception. Moreover, ctenophore uses a different composition of neurotransmitters than all other organisms: in the processes of transmission of nerve impulses they are involved exclusively glutamate receptors. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and some others, which are used in the transmission of nerve impulses between neurons, as well as between neurons and executive cells, are not used by the comb jelly organism.

These results fundamentally change the steady view that the evolution of the nervous system of animals and humans took place only along one well-known science path. The structure and characteristics of the functioning of the ctenophore nervous activity suggest that the nervous system of this living creature has passed through a different, different from that known to science, path of formation and development. Scientists believe that ctenophores for some reason separated from other multicellular animals in the early stages of evolution, and this happened about 600 million years ago. As a result, they received a unique nervous system among earthly creatures and muscles, the formation of which took place in an independent way.

As many times it was already necessary for many generations of learned men to make sure, nature harbors many mysteries and discoveries. Its seeming “simplicity” turns out to be a source of new, higher knowledge, which inevitably introduces corrections to our ideas about the essence of things and phenomena.

As Leonid Moroz said,

We have too simplified the process of evolution. Nature turned out to be much more diverse than we thought about it. And full of innovation …

A. Adult ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi
B. Rowing plates ctenophore
C. Young ctenophore (top view)

Scientists hope that a deeper and more comprehensive study of such natural phenomena – the ability of living beings to regenerate – will open the way to the creation of new medical technologies for the treatment of patients with various brain lesions, both of post-traumatic and degenerative origin.