Friday, November 25, 2011

Woolly mammoths help develop new blood products

Woolly mammoth ancestors evolved in warm climates, like where the African and Asian elephants live now, and migrated to the cold regions of Eurasia.  The mammoths adapted to their new environment by growing thick fur and smaller ears and possibly even changing their DNA.  Researchers discovered that a blood protein that carries oxygen to the rest of the body from the lungs in woolly mammoths has mutations in its DNA, which makes it different from the Asian elephant.  The researches made the hemoglobin protein in a lab by using fragmented DNA sequences from three mammoths that died in Siberia.  The woolly mammoth protein was found to be much less sensitive to temperature changes then the hemoglobin found in Asian elephants and humans.  This means that the woolly mammoth’s hemoglobin was able to easily carry oxygen to tissues in the cold.  Researchers believe this discovery can lead to the design of new artificial blood products for procedures that involve reducing a patients’ body temperature such as heart and brain surgeries.

This article.

1 comment:

  1. I find it pretty interesting that we could potentially use an adaption or characteristic of an organism that has been extinct for such a long time in situations today to survive better. It's interesting that kind of trait which helped an animal survive in their different environment could be used in a different context for humans.