Human Cell Metabolism Is Slowed by Added Tardigrade Proteins: Research

They can endure for decades at minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) and for a few minutes at temperatures as low as minus 272 degrees Celsius (minus 457 degrees Fahrenheit) or as high as 150 degrees Celsius (302 degrees Fahrenheit) without food or water. They can also live for up to 30 years without these resources.

Tardigrades can endure radiation exposure of up to 5,000–6,200 Gy and pressures ranging from almost zero atm in space to 1,200 atm at the Marianas Trench’s base.

Through the use of proteins that gel inside of cells and slow down vital functions, they are able to enter a state of suspended animation known as biostasis and live.

Scientist Silvia Sanchez-Martinez of the University of Wyoming, Laramie, said, “Amazingly, when we introduce these proteins into cells, they gel and slow down metabolism, just like in tardigrades.”

“Furthermore, just like tardigrades, when you put human cells that have these proteins into biostasis, they become more resistant to stresses, conferring some of the tardigrades’ abilities to the human cells.”

A researcher at the University of Wyoming, Laramie named Dr. Thomas Boothby stated, “Importantly, our research shows that the whole process is reversible.”

“When the stress is relieved, the tardigrade gels dissolve, and the human cells return to their normal metabolism.”

“Our findings provide an avenue for pursuing technologies centered on the induction of biostasis in cells and even whole organisms to slow aging and enhance storage and stability.”

Tardigrades are a diverse genus of tiny invertebrates that were first found in 1773. They are well-known for their capacity to withstand harsh environments.

These organisms, sometimes referred to as water bears or moss piglets, have a maximum size of 0.5 mm and can only be seen under a microscope. They have a 60-year lifespan.