Sharks Save Lives—Sharks and Medicine
August 20, 2009

stroke patient, tumor with blood vessels, pills

stroke patient, tumor with blood vessels, pills

Sharks are the focus of a wide range of medical research and a source of biomaterials used in several surgeries and pharmaceutical drugs. For example, the irregular, shifting structure of sharkskin that deters plant spores from latching onto and growing on sharks is being studied for possible medical applications. A sharkskin-like surface would prevent detrimental tissue growth on biomedical implants like catheters and heart valves. Scientists are also studying how Epaulette sharks can survive being stranded on shore for a few hours at low tide without being able to breathe. Since the epaulettes cope with oxygen deprivation at temperatures close to the human body temperature, there is hope that what they learn could be applied to stroke and heart attack patients.

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