Do dolphins hold the cure for human injuries?

A scientist has explored the “remarkable” and “mysterious” wound healing abilities of dolphins from a shark bite, a phenomenon that might provide insights for the cure of human injuries.

Michael Zasloff, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) and former Dean of Research explained the dolphin healing process by synthesizing scattered reports of known aspects of dolphin biology.

For example, he proposed that the same diving mechanism (diving reflex) that diverts blood from the periphery of the body during a dolphin’s deep plunge down in water depths also could be triggered after an injury. Less blood at the body’s surface means less blood loss.

As for pain, Zasloff’s review suggested that the dolphin’s apparent indifference “clearly represents an adaptation favourable for survival.” Still, he said, the neurological and physiological mechanisms engaged to reduce pain remain unknown.

Despite gaping wounds and deep flesh tears, those who observe dolphins following shark bites have not noted significant rates of infection. Zasloff said it’s likely that the animal’s blubber holds key answers.

“It’s most likely that the dolphin stores its own antimicrobial compound and releases it when an injury occurs,” Zasloff said.

“This action could control and prevent microbial infection while at the same time prevent decomposition around the animal’s injury,” added Zasloff.

Finally, Zasloff explored the ability of the dolphin’s wound to heal in a way that restores the dolphin’s body contour. He said that the dolphin’s healing ability is less like human healing and more like regeneration.

“The repair of a gaping wound to an appearance that is near normal requires the ability of the injured animal to knit newly formed tissues with the existing fabric of adipocytes, collagen and elastic fibers,” he explained.

“The dolphin’s healing is similar to how mammalian fetuses are able to heal in the womb,” he added.

“My hope is this work will stimulate research that will benefit humans,” he said.

“I feel reasonably certain that within this animal’s healing wounds we will find novel antimicrobial agents as well as potent analgesic compounds,” he added.

The study has been published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Source: DNA

5 thoughts on “Do dolphins hold the cure for human injuries?”

  1. This is just one of the miraculous attributes of the dolphin..my concern, with such medical discoveries, is that man will exploit this magnificent creature as s(he) has in so many other situations

  2. Dolphins are not lab rats, what cure are you hoping to cure on humans?. It may be just one thing, but then it will be another thing you want to test them on. Dolphins belong in their own natural habitat. They belong out in the sea – Not in some scientists lab getting poked with needles & god knows what else. Sooner or later these loving creatures of the sea will no longer be loveable to humans they will feel like they’re always in danger & start turning on humans. Why can’t people just leave them alone. LEAVE THE DOLPHINS ALONE!!!. ESPECIALLY YOU MR. ZASLOFF.

  3. Well,
    first of all Dolphins are conscious breathers. And science had to find out that you can’t put them under general anesthesia because they die (drown). So there’s little you can do with such a big and strong animal in a laboratory. Thus if you want to study dolphins there are unfortunately only -2- ways: from the outside by observing phenomena or from the inside by killing it.
    Maybe that is one of the reasons why we have all these hyped reports about the wondrous and magical abilities of dolphins, because we see something that
    we don’t understand, we can’t ask them or maybe we don’t get the answer and we can’t “look into it” while it is alive.
    The fact is, we humans have evolved the last 7 million years for the bipedal life on land where we focused intensely on ‘twig management’ related climbing and as such we swim like buoys and breath like bicycle pumps, whereas dolphins are superbly adapted for life in water where they evolved the last 50 million years and since they where not distracted by hands with fingers and feet with toes, they evolved very differently.
    Land life kills dolphins in the short and long run and there are no known conclusions of dolphin studying a humans’ capacity to sustain life in water, apart from the fact that they bring humans quickly to the surface and defend them from shark attacks.
    Do they do that because they “understand” us or do they do that because their sonar perception tells them that we are small mammals in trouble?
    Maybe one day we’ll find out in an unexpected way, far away from labs !?

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