Being alive or dead may not be such a black and white matter. Via Discovery:
A new study reveals how death in organisms, including humans, spreads like a wave from cell to cell until the whole individual is dead. In certain cases, scientists may be able to stop the biochemical process that leads to this death wave, reviving the individual.
Researchers focused their analysis on worms, which surprisingly possess mechanisms that are similar to those that are active in mammals. A remarkable feature of worms is that, as they die, the spread of death through their bodies can easily be seen under magnification. It’s a fluorescent blue light caused by necrosis, or the cell death pathway. This, in turn, is dependent upon calcium signaling.
The individual cell deaths trigger a chemical reaction that leads to the breakdown of cell components and a build-up of molecular debris. If this goes on unchecked, the individual is toast.
If the worm study is any indication, researchers might be able to stop the calcium signaling biochemical spread of death under other non-aging-related circumstances.
David Gems from the Institute of Health Aging at University College London, who led the study, said that “the findings cast doubt on the theory that aging is simply a consequence of an accumulation of molecular damage. We need to focus on the biological events that occur during aging and death to properly understand how we might be able to interrupt these processes.”