Friday, August 06, 2010

Sea Sponges Share Human Genes

And not just a few -- apparently 70 percent.

Genetic sequencing of sea sponges from the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef showed the ancient marine animal shared many of its genes with humans, including a large number typically associated with disease and cancer.

Lead researcher Bernard Degnan, of the University of Queensland, said the findings "would shed light on a whole range of different things," and could lay the foundation for breakthroughs in cancer and stem cell research.

"Sponges have what's (considered) the 'Holy Grail' of stem cells," Degnan told AFP.

Exploring the genetic function of sponge stem cells could provide "deep and important connections" to the genes that influenced human stem cell biology, he said.

"(It) might actually inform the way we think about our own stem cells and how we might be able to use them in future medical applications," he said.

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Diving Discoveries said...

Harvesting sponge embryo for stem cell research seems a lot less controversial than human stem cell research. 70%?? Incredible!

Neutral Dive Gear said...

No kidding!