Sunday, October 30, 2011

A study was conducted at the University of Colorado that investigated the change in bodily functions that occurs as a Python is eating. When a python eats, its hearts and other organs grow in size due to hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the enlargement of cells, which causes the overall enlargement of an organ. In humans, hypertrophy is often seen in the heart either in well-conditioned athletes when exercising or when someone has a heart attack/heart failure. Therefore by studying hypertrophy in Pythons, the scientists hope to be able to help prevent heart problems. The scientists figured out that only a combination of three specific lipids (fatty acids) were able to create hypertrophy in a Python; they were able to figure out this data by injected blood from a fed Python into a starving Python. The next goal was to figure out why this large increase in the amount of lipids did not have a detrimental effect for the Python’s help. The answer to this was that there was an enzyme, SOD (superoxide dismutase) that acted as an antioxidant that defended the cells exposed to oxygen. The scientists are optimistic that this new information will lead to preventions of heart attack and heart failure.

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