Maureen Langlois reports on the amazing healing powers of dolphins, for NPR:
Now, he’s tapping another animal to mine the secrets of its immune system. It turns out dolphins have a remarkable ability to heal quickly—and seemingly painlessly—from severe shark bites. Zasloff hopes that learning how dolphins resist infection and use stem cells to rebuild missing tissue will provide some insight into how to help injured humans.
To do this research, Zasloff reviewed the “clinical histories” of a few dolphins who recently succumbed to shark bites. He also interviewed all the dolphin experts he could find. His results appeared in a letter in the online version of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
Shots caught up with Zasloff last week to learn more about his adventures in dolphin biology.
Q: OK, so imagine a human and a dolphin both being bitten by a shark. How would the healing process differ between the two?
Well, the dolphin wouldn’t hemorrhage…or have any infection, which is miraculous. And despite having sustained massive tissue injury, within about month the animal will restore its normal body contour. There’ll be some surface markings, but a chunk of tissue maybe the size of a football will have been restored with essentially no deformity.
And what is equally amazing is that handlers who know these animals will tell you that they observe absolutely no indications in the animal’s behavior that it’s in pain…
[continues at NPR]