Shark Bites No Match For Dolphins’ Powers Of Healing : Shots – Health Blog : NPR
Shark Bites No Match For Dolphins’ Powers Of Healing : Shots – Health Blog : NPR.
It turns out dolphins have a remarkable ability to heal quickly—and seemingly painlessly—from severe shark bites. Dr. Michael Zasloff hopes that learning how dolphins resist infection and use stem cells to rebuild missing tissue will provide some insight into how to help injured humans.
OK, so imagine a human and a dolphin both being bitten by a shark. How would the healing process differ between the two? The dolphin wouldn’t hemorrhage…or have any infection, which is miraculous. And despite having sustained massive tissue injury, within a month the animal will restore its normal body contour. There’ll be some surface markings, but a chunk of tissue maybe the size of a football will have been restored with essentially no deformity.
And what is equally amazing is that handlers who know these animals will tell you that they observe absolutely no indications in the animal’s behavior that it’s in pain.
Dolphin blubber makes compounds like organohalogens that act as natural antibiotics and keep the tissue from getting infected. When the animal restores its wound, it regenerates the complex structure of blubber. It doesn’t create a scar; it produces a sort of patch that ultimately is woven back into the surrounding tissue.
What is exciting is that there must be great numbers of stem cells involved, and by looking at these stem cells, we would probably be able to identify what they are and possibly even the hormones or proteins that are involved in their expansion. And if we looked for comparable cells in man, these might be the very cells that we would want to use to promote healing of complex wounds in us.
ChrisB- It is for reasons like these, that we absolutely have to protect and study the many wonderful plants and animals sharing the planet with us. People wonder why environmentalists and scientists battle to protect seemingly inconsequential animals like the Texas Blind Salamander. This is why. Who knows what mysteries they will help us solve? It is pretty incredible to think there are major breakthroughs in medicine waiting for us in such a well known and beloved creature. Dolphins can heal a wound painlessly without succumbing to infection or the hemorrhages that would kill a man. If we can replicate their ability to rebuild tissue or to hold off infection, we will have taken a great leap forward. They may hold a key to more productive stem cell research and future medical procedures.