The real pace of death in organisms

A new study published in the latest issue of PLoS Biology revealed about how death in organisms including that in human beings spreads like a wave from cell to cell until the whole individual or organism dies. Scientists have discovered that death can be seen spreading like a blue glowing wave through the body of worm. British scientists have captured the death spreading like wave through the body of a worm by studying the blue fluorescence that travels from cell to cell until the whole organism is dead.

The good news for human beings due to this discovery is that in certain cases, the scientists may be able to stop the biochemical process that leads to death wave thus reviving the individual from the clutches of death. Scientists believe that the research could eventually prove to be a useful model in understanding about death in people and perhaps may even lead to increase in life expectancy of human beings. The remarkable feature of worms is that when they die, the spread of death can be easily seen under magnification and it is a fluorescent blue light caused by necrosis, or the cell death pathway. This in turn is caused dependent upon calcium signaling. The source of the blue hue is a molecule called anthranillic acid.

Researchers from Wellcome Trust compared the spread of blue glow travelling through the worm’s body to that of a Grim Reaper stalking death. When individual cells die, they trigger a chemical chain reaction that leads to the breakdown of the cell components and buildup molecular debris. The source of the blue fluorescence was previously thought to be a substance called lipofuscin that emits light of a similar color. It has been linked to aging because it accumulates with increasing molecular damage.


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