Few things can make a person squirm more than the sight of naked mole rats. However, a new study has shown that we may have some fascinating things to learn from the blind little creatures. They know how to survive in very low oxygen conditions, and the potential discoveries from that research could have broad effects on medicine and science in general.
Naked Mole Rats Have Adapted to Survive Suffocation
Researchers detailed their findings in a paper titled, “Fructose-Driven Glycolysis Supports Anoxia Resistance in the Naked Mole-Rat”, in the April 21 issue of the journal Science. There, they explain how to switch from a glucose to a fructose-based metabolism prevents organ damage when the animal is deprived of oxygen. This can happen in other mammals, but usually only in very specific situations.
The potential for this research in protecting stroke and heart-attack sufferers is extensive, as well as dozens of other diseases and injuries. Damage to bodily tissues due to oxygen deprivation, especially the brain and the heart, is one of the primary causes of death and permanent injury in many situations. Experimental treatments are a long time away, but the initial clues in this research may have been found among the lowest of creatures.