squirrel extermination

Possible Breakthroughs in Human Hibernation through Squirrels

Human hibernation first gained ground in scientific studies after scientists have found the need to make astronauts "hibernate" during space voyages that might take months or years. While this idea may have sounded far-fetched in the past, scientists finally say some light as they started to study squirrel hibernation.

We might have heard of squirrels and other animals like bears sleeping away the cold winter days and wake up to feed on the first spring foods. But to think of this method of "rest" as something that is possible for humans is simply outrageous right? But, now that scientists have found their ways in the laboratories of bright minds, this wild imagination may be possible in the future!

But the applications of hibernation studies are not only limited to human hibernation; it can also be used to prolong the shelf life of internal organs used for transplant operation, which in itself is already a major medical breakthrough. That's not everything even. Scientists believe that if they can find a way to apply hibernation for human application, they it would then be possible to help humans deal with trauma situations. It can also be used for weight control as squirrels are able to gain and lose weight during the process without any complications.

The 13-striped squirrel is currently given the most attention because of its ability to lower its heart rate and slow down its metabolism during winter. These measures necessarily make its body temperature to drop making it feel less cold during winter. These conditions would have been fatal to other animals, much more to humans. However, for some reasons, hibernating animals are able to prevent their organs from malfunctioning despite the changes that the body is experiencing. Hibernation lasts for many months and it brings scientists to marvel at these animals ability to stay alive even without eating, drinking or moving.

Cooling of Human Organs for Transplant

Scientists also believe that the squirrels might be the answer to lifting human limitations when it comes to keeping vital organs used in transplants for longer periods. At present, the most that doctors can do is to preserve a liver for a couple of hours after it has been extracted from the donor. The liver can't be preserved any further in ice because it begins to "die" after prolonged exposure to cold. Squirrels have this ability to keep their organs alive and healthy after months of exposure to cold temperature which is supposed to be almost at freezing point, the same temperature at which the human organs are kept before the transplant.

Scientists are currently studying squirrels in the hope of finally uncovering the secrets of hibernation. A specific lab has extracted 20 livers from hibernating squirrels and compared the lifespan of these livers outside their host to that of a rat's extracted liver. The rat's liver lasted for 24 to 48 hours only while the squirrel’s liver showed no form of damages within 72 hours and lasted up to 96 hours without the appearance of any significant damages. For an organ to remain useful after four days is simply unbelievable and scientists are excited to finally discover how to apply this on humans.

However, the question that remains unanswered is this, how do squirrels do it? To find the answers, researchers and scientists have collaborated to examine the livers to their molecular levels. The goal of the collaboration is to examine the livers extracted before and during hibernation. The examination can extend to the identifying the proteins that are present in the cells comprising the livers. The foundation of all cells is mainly protein and if the scientists are able to find out what is happening in the proteins, they might be able to mimic the conditions and apply the process on human cells.

They found out that the protein complex in the liver of hibernating squirrels is comprised on two enzymes. One of the enzymes is responsible for the breaking up of the fatty acids stored in the squirrel's body. The energy released because of this process is used to fuel the bodies of the hibernating squirrels. The other enzyme is supposed to help the squirrel to conserve the glucose that is present in its body. However, the enzyme that prolongs the life of the squirrels' organs during hibernation remains to be undetectable. Even the enzyme that causes the sudden jolt that wakes the squirrel up from its deep slumber is not easily found.

The main problem of scientists is the lack of human organs to use in their experiments. Every year, thousands of humans die waiting for organ donors and scientists can't just take away an organ that could have saved a life for an experiment which may or may not succeed. Because of these limitations, scientists are left in a corner where they simply speculate and test their theories on animals or worse, in their heads.

Thus, to some extent, extending organ shelf life may seem to be out of the question when we all know that the number of organs meant for transplant is limited. What is there to store, anyway? If there are too few organs, what is the need of an extended shelf life? But scientists remain to be convicted in their studies. To them, it does not really matter if it is urgently needed or not, what is more important is that this technology is already present come the time that humans would need it. Anyway, the main goal of their study is to find a way to make humans hibernate and organ preservation is but a secondary objective.

In the end, the more important lesson that we should learn from this is that the animals around us are capable of things which humans, who are supposed to be the most intelligent of all creatures, cannot do. This gives emphasis on the point that we have so much more to learn about everything around us, even the squirrels which some might even consider as pests.
squirrel extermination