Created in the laboratory a creature that does not need to breathe

The experiment could have implications for research against human diseases. Scientists create a creature that doesn't need to breathe.

As absurd as they may seem, scientists' experiments always have a more general value: in this case, it's about making strides in the treatment of some dramatic human diseases, such as stroke.

The starting point seems pretty far off, but there is a relationship. What does stroke have to do with the lab-created creature that doesn't need to breathe at all?

Here's what we know about a result that stretches the boundaries of what we thought was possible.

What is the creature created by scientists that doesn't need oxygen

The results of the experiment by researchers at Ludwig Maximilians University have been published in iScience. According to the study, some scientists were able to inject some photosynthetic algae inside the tadpoles, the larval stage of anuran amphibians such as frogs and toads.

It came out a symbiotic relationship between amphibians and microbe that, in other words, have begun to live (literally) together, as precisely two symbiotic organisms. The exceptional aspect of this whole thing is that the algae is able to keep the tadpoles alive in the absence of environmental oxygen.

Specifically, the scientists took away the tadpoles' oxygen until their brains shut down. Surprisingly, the death of the little creatures did not occur: in fact, when inside the water tank, in which the tadpoles were present, the oxygen-producing function of the algae was "activated", the amphibians' brains started working again. It means that the algae kept the tadpoles alive, despite the absence of oxygen.

What the tadpoles' brains teach us about human disease

You may or may not agree with animal experimentation of practices that are actually painful for the guinea pigs at the center of the various studies. What's important to keep in mind, in putting pros and cons on the scales, are the possible benefits to humans. Thanks to tadpole recruitment, in fact, in the future we might be able to keep a patient alive despite a stroke, which is known to cut off the oxygen supply to the brain.

"Speculating on the potential implications (of this study, ed.) is fascinating," said a biologist at Gettysburg College, Ryan Kerney. So the question is, "Can we move away from breathing as a way to keep our brains active?"

All sorts of things really do happen in the researchers' labs: scientists have recreated friendship between mice and even artificial meat (perhaps the only meat we'll eat, in the future).

Giuseppe Giordano