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Tardigrades. Their proteins can preserve drugs

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Tardigrades – microscopic, extremely hardy animals – can be used in medicine. American scientists managed to isolate from them chemical compounds that act as multi-purpose preservatives, stabilizing, among others, drugs for hemophilia.

Tardigrades are microscopic animals known for their incredible endurance. They can survive complete desiccation, cooling to almost absolute zero, heating to 150 degrees Celsius or even staying in a cosmic vacuum. A study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports that shows how people can take advantage of these amazing skills.

Hardy as a tardigrade

Researchers from the University of Wyoming looked at two substances that affect the endurance of tardigrades – a sugar called trehalose and the CAHS D protein. The researchers used them to stabilize factor VIII, a protein responsible for blood coagulation. It is used in the treatment of haemophilia, but access to it can be difficult because the drug must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. This, in turn, is associated with problems in transport and distribution.

– In underdeveloped regions of the world, during natural disasters, spaceflights or war, access to refrigerators and freezers as well as to electricity is limited. This often means that people who need clotting factor VIII are not getting it, explains Thomas Boothby, lead author of the paper.

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The researchers noted that the properly prepared CAHS D protein was suitable for stabilizing the drug. Factor VIII could be stored without refrigeration, exposed to extreme heat, and dehydrated many times without losing its properties.

Niesporczak – pic. illustrativeShutterstock

Drugs, cells and food

As Boothby explains, the study shows that factor VIII, and possibly other drugs, can be stabilized by proteins. – Thanks to the proteins derived from tardigrade, drugs can be stored in a dried form, at room temperature or even at elevated temperature. This means access to life-saving medicines for anyone, anywhere.

In a similar way, scientists also want to stabilize other biological pharmaceuticals, i.e. those derived from living organisms, such as vaccines, antibodies, blood products, and even stem cells.

‘This will not only help organizations operating in developing parts of the world, but also facilitate the creation of a safe system … that makes us independent of the refrigeration of stored drugs, food and other molecules,’ explains Boothby.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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