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Snow Fleas' Antifreeze Protein Could Aid Organ Transplant

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posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 02:18 PM
Canadian scientists have discovered that snow fleas have a unique protein in their bodies that inhibits ice forming, which enables them to survive under blankets of snow while they feed on a specific fungus that grows there. Researchers were able to measure that the snow fleas lowered the temperature at which liquid freezes by 11 degrees F. Although it doesn't sound like much, that difference could have important implications for organ transplant:

Canadian researchers find anti-freeze in fleas

One practical application of the study could be to store transplant organs at cooler temperatures to preserve them for longer.

"If you can profuse, or basically run a solution with an antifreeze protein and flood an organ with it, you might then be able to store it at lower temperatures and the antifreeze would prevent the organ from actually freezing," said Laurie Graham, one of the two researchers who carried out the study.

"Theoretically, with this antifreeze protein we might be able to store an organ at minus 6 degrees (21 degrees Fahrenheit). Hopefully, it would be able to last longer so that you would have longer to do tissue matching to get the organ to the patient and just increase the shelf life of organs."

Other theoretical applications of this antifreeze protein put forward are its use in crops to help harvests survive frosts, and in frozen foods to prevent freezer burn.


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