Scientists Hope that Proteins from the World’s Toughest Animal Could Be Used To Help Save Human Lives
The tardigrade or water bear is the toughest animal on Earth. It can endure extreme temperatures and pressures and has the remarkable ability to enter a dormant state and reawaken even after years of being in a dehydrated state. To survive it relies on highly specialized proteins known as «extremophiles».
Discovering the Extremophiles
These proteins have been around for centuries, however it took scientists some time to discover them. It was only in 2008, when samples of tardigrades were sent to the International Space Station, that the extreme abilities of the tardigrade were discovered. This discovery enabled scientists to delve deeper into the properties of extremophiles and how they could be utilized.
Exploring the Potential of Extremophiles
There has been much research into the potential of extremophiles in the medical field, with some researchers believing that they could prove to be a game-changer for human health. The most compelling application of extremophiles is their potential to protect human cells from everyday damage, as well as from conditions such as:
- Heat and cold shock
- Acidic and basic environments
There is also a potential application for extremophiles to enhance existing drugs, by improving their pharmacological properties.
The Challenges Ahead
As promising as the possibilities for the use of extremophiles in the medical field may be, there are still a number of challenges ahead. For one, scientists must find an efficient and cost-effective way to produce extremophiles, as well as investigate their safety and side-effects when used in humans.
In conclusion, while the potential applications of extremophiles in the medical field is great, there is still much work to be done in order to realize this potential. If these challenges can be overcome, then it may be possible that these specialized proteins from the world’s toughest animal could one day help to save human lives.
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