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UW Biology Assistant Professor Thomas Boothby and team make further discoveries into the secrets of the tardigrade

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University of Wyoming reports researchers have gained further insight into how tardigrades survive extreme conditions and shown that proteins from the microscopic creatures expressed in human cells can slow down molecular processes.

According to UW, this makes the tardigrade proteins potential candidates in technologies centered on slowing the aging process and in long-term storage of human cells.

Director of institutional communications for UW, Chad Baldwin, spoke on the study during an appearance on Sheridan Media’s Public Pulse.  

The new study, published in the journal Protein Science, examines the mechanisms used by tardigrades, widely known as the water bear, to enter and exit from suspended animation when faced by environmental stress. Led by Senior Research Scientist Silvia Sanchez-Martinez in the lab of UW Department of Molecular Biology Assistant Professor Thomas Boothby, the research provides additional evidence that tardigrade proteins eventually could be used to make life-saving treatments.

The applications for such preservation are seemingly endless and could aid in not only the medical sciences but agricultural, space exploration and more.

C. Baldwin 

Previous research by Boothby’s team showed that natural and engineered versions of tardigrade proteins can be used to stabilize an important pharmaceutical used to treat people with hemophilia and other conditions without the need for refrigeration.

Tardigrades’ ability to survive being dried out has puzzled scientists, as the creatures do so in a manner that appears to differ from a number of other organisms with the ability to enter suspended animation.

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