The deep vein thrombosis does not trouble the hibernating bear. And yet, sometimes when humans take an economy class flight for a few hours they run the risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis. What is the difference between a bear and a human under the circumstances?
Scientists it seems have the answer. Jon Gibbins, a professor of cell biology at the University of Reading with colleagues in Scandinavia and Germany, discovered that one protein, HSP47, in the bear’s blood is reduced during hibernation. They discovered this reduction when comparing the blood of 15 brown bears when they were active and asleep.
This protein has an importance regarding the response of blood platelets to collagen. Blood platelets cause the coagulation of blood when a person is injured. It is believed that this is why during long periods of hibernation, bears do not risk suffering from deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
And something similar happens with people when they have spinal injuries and are forced to stay still for very long times. Their blood adjusts and the protein HSP47 reduces.
One of the things that’s really important about blood clotting as it happens quickly and it happens completely. Otherwise, the consequences if you injure yourself are catastrophic. This means that evolution has provided us with lots of fail-safes.
This is a really good example of how humans can learn from nature and from wild animals. It is a perfect article in that respect for a website about the animal-human relationship.
Mirta Schattner, from the National Academy of Medicine in Buenos Aires, said that Gibbins’ approach “shows that looking at nature can be a good way to learn about human biology”.
They added that the research would “not only enable us to complement existing therapies for the prevention of DVT but also to select safer targets with less host impact.”