Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Antifreeze Protein Found In Fleas May Allow Longer Storage Of Transplant Organs

Date:
October 21, 2005
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
A new antifreeze protein discovered in tiny snow fleas by Queen's University researchers may lengthen the shelf life of human organs for transplantation.

A new antifreeze protein discovered in tiny snow fleas by Queen’s University researchers may lengthen the shelf life of human organs for transplantation.
Credit: Image courtesy of Queen's University

A new antifreeze protein discovered in tiny snow fleas by Queen’s University researchers may lengthen the shelf life of human organs for transplantation.

Drs. Laurie Graham and Peter Davies, from the Department of Biochemistry, found that the potent protein produced by the fleas to protect themselves against freezing is capable of inhibiting ice growth by about six Celsius degrees. This would allow organs to be stored at lower temperatures, expanding the time allowed between removal and transplant.

The results of the Queen’s study, funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), are published today in the international journal Science.

“Transplant organs must now be kept at the freezing point or slightly warmer,” says Dr. Graham. “If we can drop the temperature at which the organ is safely stored, there will be a longer preservation period.”

The hyperactive antifreeze protein produced by snow fleas is different from two other insect proteins discovered earlier at Queen’s, the researchers say.

“Unlike the antifreeze proteins in beetles and moths, AFPs in snow fleas break down and lose their structure at higher temperatures,” explains Dr Davies, Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering. “This means that if used to store organs for transplants, they will be cleared from a person’s system very quickly, reducing the possibility of harmful antibodies forming.”

An ancient species related to modern insects, snow fleas are also known as “springtails” because of the distinctive springing organ under their abdomen which allows them to leap hundreds of times their one-millimeter length. Dr. Graham first noticed them while cross-country skiing, and brought several samples into the lab. “It was serendipity,” she says now. “They looked like dots of pepper sprinkled on the snow. Later we were able to collect large numbers for testing at the Queen’s University Biological Station.”

Using a process called ice affinity purification, the team isolated the new protein, which is rich in an amino acid called glycine. “When you grow a ‘popsicle’ of ice in the presence of these proteins, the AFPs bind to the ice and become included, while other proteins are excluded,” says Dr. Davies. “We use their affinity for ice as a tool to purify the protein.”

The antifreeze mechanism of snow fleas has been reported in other parts of the world, including Antarctica, but until now no one has isolated the protein. As well as its potential for use in organ transplants, the researchers suggest it could help to increase frost resistance in plants, and inhibit crystallization in frozen foods.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "New Antifreeze Protein Found In Fleas May Allow Longer Storage Of Transplant Organs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051021123223.htm>.
Queen's University. (2005, October 21). New Antifreeze Protein Found In Fleas May Allow Longer Storage Of Transplant Organs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051021123223.htm
Queen's University. "New Antifreeze Protein Found In Fleas May Allow Longer Storage Of Transplant Organs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051021123223.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins