ISU genetic research on turtles may someday help people survive heart attacks

Researchers at Iowa State University have been studying the genetics of three types of turtles with the ultimate goal of helping people survive life-threatening incidents, like heart attacks. Nicole Valenzuela, an I-S-U professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, says they’re growing what are known as organoids from turtle livers.

These are the world’s first organoids developed for turtles and only the second for any reptile. When a person has a heart attack or a stroke, they can suffer permanent injuries caused by a lack of oxygen to their organs.

Many turtles also have the ability to withstand the extreme cold for long periods of time, something else Valenzuela and her research team are studying with human applications in mind.

The research also holds promise for conservation, she says, as the use of organoids would enable the study of endangered species which couldn’t otherwise be investigated.



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