Bear Essentials (of Hibernation)

Recent investigations on what happens to bears during hibernation have revealed interesting results with possible medical applications for humans.Read the full BBC article here.  A great example of how we can learn from nature and improve human life (the Pope’s favorite animal can offer us even more). The bears metabolism drops to 25% of its usual rate, sometimes to even 2% with body temperatures reaching close to freezing levels. Below some key possible medical applications:

“Another surprise was that even when the bears awakened and their body temperature rose to its normal level of about 38C, their metabolism remained low – nearly half the normal rate, for up to three weeks after finishing hibernation. That the bears emerge in a fit state, with no loss of muscle and carrying on their routines even with lowered metabolism, suggests that they hold the secret to better medical care for humans, said Professor Barnes.

“If we could tell the mechanism by which they… do this decrease in metabolic demand, that would be very interesting; should you have a heart attack or stroke or be gravely injured, the ability of your heart to deliver oxygen to your brain is compromised,” he explained. “If we could do something to reduce your demand to be equivalent to supply – hibernating – it would put you in a protected state that would give us more time to get you to care. That’s the most exciting potential application in my mind.”


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