Inserting Algae Into Tadpoles Can Bring Their Brains Back Online

It all works through photosynthesis.
Loukia Papadopoulos

The human brain is a complex and amazing organ that takes up 20 percent of the body's oxygen, despite making up only 2 percent of our bodies. This means that the human brain cannot be without oxygen for more than five minutes before irreversible damage occurs such as in the case of a stroke.

But, what if there was a way to oxygenate a dying brain and revive it. New research showed that this is possible in tadpoles.

The new trial saw researchers inject green algae and cyanobacteria into the brains of African clawed frog tadpoles that had been suffocated. The bacteria were able to revive the tadpoles.

The researchers further found an increase in local oxygen when green algae or cyanobacteria were present and photosynthesizing under light, meaning the bacteria were essentially restarting and rescuing neuronal activity from the brink of death.

"In the future, phototrophic microorganisms might provide a novel means to directly increase oxygen levels in the brain in a controlled manner under particular eco-physiological conditions or following pathological impairments," the authors wrote in their study.

Unfortunately, as exciting as the concept is, it is a long way from being viable in humans.

The authors suggest that they could test it in the lab on organoids or small slices of the human brain. But even if that proves fruitful, it does not mean it will actually work on humans.

For starters, tadpoles are see-through, which is what helps the bacteria photosynthesize in their brains.

The human skull, however, isn't transparent.

The team even describes its process as "potentially detrimental" because the bacteria can potentially grow out of control and clog our blood vessels.

There's also the fact that too much oxygen could also be produced which would be just as detrimental as too little. Still, it is an interesting experiment.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board