The Silene Stenophylla: An Introduction

Over 32,000 years ago, a squirrel buried a small group of seeds near the Kolyma river in Siberia as part of a normal cache used to provide sustenance during the long, cold Siberian winters.

Unearthed from over 120 feet below the surface layer of permafrost, the seeds had been surrounded by bones from mammals now both living and extinct: bison, mammoth, and woolly rhinoceros. Although the many of the seeds had been damaged to a considerable degree, several contained recoverable material.

The Russian team to make the discovery were able to recover and successfully germinate several plants, which differ in both flower and leaf shape from modern variants of the Silene stenophylla plant. These recovered plants grew, flowered, and after a year were able to create seeds of their own - reproducing variants of their own type rather than of the modern variant.

For botanists, this was an important scientific discovery, as the previous title-holder of "oldest regenerated seed" was a date palm just 2,000 years old. This seed, however, had been preserved in a dry, cool area - not the water-rich permafrost environment in which the Silene stenophylla seeds were frozen, which is more comparable to the environment in which many modern 'seed vaults' store their contents - making the regeneration of the Silene stenophylla an important proof of concept for botanists worldwide.

For us, the Silene is not just an important scientific discovery, but also a signal of developments to come for all humanity: the introduction of an era of personalized, regenerative medicine using patients' own cells, ending the need for invasive transplants and their associated immunosuppressive therapy, which in many cases can cause side effects as debilitating as disease itself.

We look forward to working with you!