Ro­dent can live with­out oxy­gen

Irish Daily Mail - - Life -

CUT­TING off oxy­gen for most crea­tures will re­sult in near-in­stant death.

But sci­en­tists have found that the naked mole-rat can sur­vive for 18 min­utes with no oxy­gen, and five hours at lev­els low enough to be fatal to hu­mans in min­utes.

The ro­dent, pic­tured, can breathe with­out us­ing its lungs by cre­at­ing oxy­gen from fruc­tose sugar within its body. Un­der­stand­ing the trick could lead to new treat­ments for heart at­tacks and strokes.

The fur-free na­tive to East Africa is thought to have adapted to do with­out oxy­gen be­cause it lives in crowded, air­less un­der­ground bur­rows. Lead sci­en­tist Pro­fes­sor Thomas Park, from the Univer­sity of Illi­nois, said: ‘It has re­ar­ranged some build­ing-blocks of me­tab­o­lism to make it su­per-tol­er­ant to low-oxy­gen con­di­tions.’

His re­search, co-au­thored by Ber­lin­based Pro­fes­sor Gary Lewin, is pub­lished in the jour­nal Science.

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