Canadian biologists have identified a mechanism that allows some mammals to hibernate. These studies can help achieve a state of anabiosis for people who will go on long space travel.
Many scientists question the idea of long space travel and colonization of other planets because the human body may not tolerate a long stay in space.
Studies on the ISS have already confirmed that astronauts often lose muscle mass, change bone structure, disrupt the cardiovascular system, vision and more.
To solve this problem, some scientists plan to learn how to safely put a person in a state of anabiosis, that is, to stop all life processes with the ability to restore them without any harm.
Biologists have previously determined that mice can significantly lower their body temperature and metabolism in order to save energy during hibernation. A set of neurons in one of the areas of the diencephalon, the hypothalamus, is responsible for this process.
Now researchers have found out what genetic mechanism is responsible for hibernation in other mammals – lemurs.
“One of the driving forces behind this exceptional ability is miRNAs, short fragments of RNA that act as mufflers in molecular genes.” “, – write the authors of a new study from Carleton University in Canada.
Biologists have confirmed that some areas encoding microRNAs in gray mouse lemurs ( Microcebus murinus) allow these animals to maintain certain biological processes during hibernation to protect the body and, at the same time, disable other processes to save energy.
Scientists have also found that the microRNAs they detect fight muscle depletion, cell death and rapid growth, switch the process of energy consumption to slow-burning fats, and so on.
“Although microRNA is a promising area of research, it is only part of the puzzle. Our lab is also studying how these lemurs protect their cells from stress and how they store enough energy to survive in hibernation, ”explain the biologists.
In the near future, scientists plan to find out how miRNAs help animals hibernate in extreme conditions, given the extremely low temperatures, oxygen deficiency and hot dry climate.
Such research can help not only in future space travel, but also give physicians more time to perform major surgeries.