From cute, fluffy pandas to giant, carnivorous Gila monsters, here are 13 Animals Contributing to Science.
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7. The Horse
These animals can be afflicted with over 90 different inherited diseases like muscle disorders, infertility, and inflammatory diseases. This makes them an ideal model for studying human conditions. The genome of horses was decoded back in 2009 and since then it’s given researchers an insight into how these majestic creatures can help explain vision and skin problems. Horses have more keratin and opsin genes which may or may not be how the horse gets its sharp eyesight and the formation of its hoofs. Scientists hope that they’ll be able to get more insight on human diseases such as pachyonychia and blindness.
6. The Naked Mole Rat
Yes, it’s true that these rodents aren’t the prettiest things to look at but there is something rather interesting about them that is being studied in labs. See, these beauties have an unusually high lifespan of up to 28 years. That’s eight times longer than what a mouse would live! Remarkably, naked mole rats are impervious to develop cancer. In 2013, scientists discovered the chemical HMW-HA and it’s what keeps the rats from getting cancer. Researcher are now trying to figure out how to this find could be applied to us humans.
5. The Giant Limpet
Did you know that the giant limpet isn’t actually a “true” limpet but rather it’s actually a type of sea snail? Unlike true limpets, the giant limpet actually has a hole on the top of their shell where they expel waste rather than beneath the shell. The reason that these things are being used in medical research is because their blood is considered very special. Instead of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in us vertebrates, these guys have hemocyanin that is used as a vaccine carrier protein. Just a liter of their blood is worth $100,000.
4. Hibernating Bears
You’re probably asking yourself “how the heck do sleeping bears have anything to contribute to science. Well, that’s exactly how, by sleeping. See, when bears go into hibernation something happens. It’s estimated that around 20 to 30 percent of their synapses become lost. A synapse is what allows the neurons in your brain to pass chemical or electrical signals to other neurons. However, when the bears awake from hibernation these connections are restored and the bear suffers from no memory loss. This information could prove useful in the fight against diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
3. The Gila Monster
This beauty of a lizard happens to be the largest of its kind in all of North America. It also happens to be the source for a highly beneficial drug called exenatide. That’s right the medication is derived from the gila monster’s own insides but also straight from its saliva. The exenatide is being used to help treat the blood sugar levels of those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. The effects of their spit has been tested on the appetites of rats and has shown that the rats no longer craved specific foods such as chocolate.
2. The Porcupine
These creatures are most notably recognized for their prickly quills that end up in the faces of unlucky predators who are hungry enough to make the mistake of going after them. Once in range, the porcupine will launch their quills at their attacker. Researchers hope to study and use these quills to apply them towards human needs. The quills of a porcupine are easily able to pierce the skin and biomedical engineers are trying to create a synthetic version of these in order to deliver less painful shots and potentially prevent fluid leakage after a surgery
Before we reveal number one, let us know in the comments below which one of these animals you think will be the most useful in science and don’t forget to subscribe! And now…
1. The Zebrafish
You may or may not have heard of a zebrafish but they are extremely well-known in the world of modern medicine. From cancer to repairing retinal damage, these small swimmers are used by scientists in a multitude of research programs. One of those programs being that the zebrafish is able to create its own special compound that helps it regulate its metabolism. An MD at the University of California, San Francisco named Philipp Gut, who is the lead researcher of the project, hopes that this same compound could be used to help regulate obesity and type 2 diabetes.