Snake blood might treat heart disease

According to a University of Colorado at Boulder study, enormous amounts of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstreams of feeding pythons might promote healthy heart growth.
Written by Ina Muri, Weekend Editor

It sounds a little crazy, but a study at the University of Colorado at Boulder has shown that enormous amounts of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstreams of feeding pythons can promote healthy heart growth. The research team found a fifty-fold increase of triglycerides in the blood of a Burmese python after eating .

Leslie Leinwand, a CU professor in the molecular, cellular and developmental biology, said that despite the massive amount of fatty acids in the python bloodstream, there was no evidence of fat deposition in the heart. However, there was an increase in an essential enzyme that is known to protect the heart from damage.

Previous studies have also shown that the heart of a Buramese python can grow up to 40 percent within 24 and 72 hours after a large meal, and the metabolism increases times forty. After identifying the enzyme that causes this increase, the team injected a fasting python with either a fed python plasma or a reconstituted fatty acid mixture developed to mimic the plasma.

In both cases, the snakes showed increased heart growth and other signs of cardiac health. They found that a combination of fatty acids can be beneficial for heart growth in living organisms, and that they are trying to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the process.

Leinwand said that well-conditioned athletes have very big hearts, but that many people are unable to exercise because of an existing heart disease. She said it would be nice to develop some kind of a treatment and therapies that will promote the beneficial growth of heart cells in humans.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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