AFP - The Burmese python, one of the largest snakes in the world, could hold the key to new treatments to prevent or combat human heart disease, U.S. researchers hope that the study was published Thursday. This reptile, which can measure up to nine meters long with a weight of 90 pounds, able to swallow a deer or an alligator, secretes fatty acids whose properties seem to work wonders on the heart, the work on show These pythons and mice by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder (west). They found that the amounts of triglycerides - the main element forming natural fats and oils - fivefold increase in blood pythons one day after swallowed prey.
Despite the strong increase of fat in the body of snakes, the authors of the study, published in the journal Science dated October 28, found no fatty deposits in their heart. In addition, they measured the increase of an enzyme called superoxide dismutase, well known for its powerful protective effects on cardiac muscle, including humans. After determining the chemical composition of blood plasma (the liquid component of blood) of pythons in full digestion, the researchers injected the liquid or a similar substance reconstituted in pythons that had an empty stomach. After these injections, these snakes have shown a marked increase in the heart and signs of a healthy heart. The researchers repeated the experiment with mice and found the same beneficial effects on the heart of rodents which increased in size.
"We discovered that a certain combination of fatty acids can have beneficial effects on cardiac growth of living organisms," said Cecilia Riquelme, lead author of the study. "Now we try to understand the molecular mechanism behind this process and hope that the results lead to new therapies to better treat human heart disease," she adds. Previous studies have shown that the mass of the heart of Burmese pythons increased by 40% within 24 to 72 hours after a large meal and the activity of their metabolism quadrupled immediately after swallowing their prey. The pythons, which can fast for a year with few adverse effects on their health, their hearts are almost double in size after a meal.
Since this increase in mass of the heart muscle is similar in athletes like cycling champion Lance Armstrong or the swimmer Michael Phelps, explore the heart of pythons could help researchers to improve the heart health of humans, the scientists believe. They note that there are also bad enlarged hearts due to hypertrophy, the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes. If disease can cause thickening of the heart muscle and lower chambers of the heart caused by his work more to pump blood, an expansion resulting from strenuous exercise, however, is a good thing, said Leslie Leinwand, Professor of biology at the University of Colorado who led the work.
"There are many people who are not able to exercise since suffering from heart disease," said the biologist, adding that "it would be" well to develop a treatment capable of inducing growth of cardiac cells "in these patients.