18 minutes without oxygen: Can humans learn survival secrets from naked mole rats?

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Considered repulsive to some and cute to others, naked mole rats have once again astonished scientists. These subterranean creatures recently have been discovered to survive for 18 minutes without oxygen, altering their metabolism so that their bodies are powered by fructose instead of glucose, similar to plants. This is the first known mammal to be able to do such a thing. The naked mole rats organs remain untouched after the 18 minutes without oxygen, and when oxygen is reintroduced, the mole rats return to normal with no lasting effects. The animals enter a suspended state where their heart rate drops from 200 beats per minute to 50 beats per minute.

Naked mole rats have evolved to live beneath the ground in burrows up to 15 miles long that often contain very little oxygen. Naked mole rats have surprised researchers in the past by almost never developing cancer, having an extremely high pain tolerance, and living far longer than any other rodent. Researchers are interested to see if humans could ever be able to do a similar biological change to protect our vital organs such as the brain and heart after a cardiac emergency or stroke.



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