The animal that will outlive us all

The water bear, also known as a tardigrade, is a microscopic creature that has the ability to survive boiling water, alcohol, some of the lowest temperatures known to man, and radiation levels that would kill any human. So, what makes this water bear so resilient? This is something that scientists have been trying to get to the bottom of for a very long time. What they’ve always suspected is that the water bear mobilizes a sugar called trehalose in order to reinforce its body and keep from being destroyed. However, they’ve now discovered something else. Researchers claim they’ve discovered an exclusively tardigradean protein that the creature creates and forms it into a glass bead. When it’s in this state, the water bear can survive almost anything. ​Researchers have managed to pinpoint the genes responsible for the creation of the water bear’s life-saving proteins. If possible, scientists may take those genes and put them into organisms like bacteria and yeast, which normally do not have these proteins, and they actually become more desiccation-tolerant. This discovery is great news for the water bear and humanity in general. One potential application would be to use these tardigrade proteins to stabilize vaccines or pharmaceuticals in a dry state that you can keep at room temperature and not have to worry about refrigeration during transportation and storage.

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Mondanité is Lebanon’s leading lifestyle and social magazine. Well-known for its broad coverage of the society hot spots; every party and every big event Lebanon is hosting.