Anyone who has read The Three-Body Problem may be impressed by the book’s ability to go into hibernation by dehydrating and soak in recovery when the time is right. In fact, in the animal world, some creatures have evolved this “black technology” – slow-moving animals, certain saltwater shrimps, nematodes, and bread yeast. The slow-moving animal, also known as the water bear worm, is the only animal ever found to survive the harsh conditions of vacuum and solar radiation. They can also survive in a space vacuum that is like a dead-in-the-world space for humans.
Slow-step animals are multicellular animals, very small, most of them no more than 1 mm, can be found from the Himalayas to the deep sea.
As early as 1774 and 1776, italians Courtin and Sballanzani discovered that in a water-scarce environment, slow-moving animals were able to “resurrection” without taking off their protective shells. As the surrounding environment slowly becomes dry, the slow-moving animals curl up in buckets and enter the so-called “Cask Phase” status, which will stretch again when the water is encountered.
Saltwater shrimp, also known as sea monkeys, can be found in 30% of the world’s salt lakes. They can withstand different salinity (from fresh to salt lake water).
The magic of dehydration recovery lies in a special sugar, seaweed sugar.
Seaweed sugar is a gel-like medium that is used to suspend and preserve organelles, cell membranes, and DNA. Slow-step animals produce glycerin (antifreeze) and secrete seaweed sugar, wrapping themselves in glass-like armor to protect fragile cellular tissue.
Seaweed sugar has been used in many fields, and for ordinary people, it should be most familiar with its application in the food industry. It regulates the sweetness and aroma of cakes and biscuits, icing on pastries, bread cream and fruit fillings, and is found in common foods such as moon cakes, cassava, fudge and jelly.
In the biomedical field, seaweed sugar can also be used as a protective agent for enzymes, other proteins, biological products and even transplanted organs.
Jonathan Kopechek, a bioengineer at the University of Louisville, has found a way to keep blood products for long periods of time, using seaweed sugar.
Blood donation is important to save a patient’s life, but blood can only be kept in cold storage for six weeks after which it can no longer be used for blood transfusions.
Kopechek says this way people have to continue donating blood to meet medical needs. But where there is no refrigeration, how to preserve blood becomes a challenge.
With seaweed sugar, blood can be stored at room temperature in a dehydrated state for years.
The researchers hope to use seaweed sugar to keep blood cells dry, but first they must let seaweed sugar into the blood cells.
They used ultrasound to drill makeshift holes in the cell membrane to get some seaweed sugar into the cell membrane.
“And they need enough algae sugar inside and outside their cells to survive dehydratorand and rehydratorization. Kopechek said.
At this point, the blood can be dried and made into a powder.
“Then we can rehydrate the blood and get it back to normal. “
The team is still trying to increase yields, arguing that dry blood can be kept at room temperature for years. The study, published in the journal Biomicrofluidics, was entitled “Induction of red blood cell molecular transfer with ultrasound of microfluidic systems.”
Kopechek says the technology could be put into clinical trials within three to five years.
If successful, it could be used to store dry blood in case of future epidemics or natural disasters, as well as for humanitarian relief efforts, military operations and even Mars missions.