Volume 89 Issue 44 | p. 8 | News of The Week
Issue Date: October 31, 2011

Fatty Acids Do A Heart Good

Physiology: Molecules trigger healthy heart growth to help python metabolism
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: Burmese pythons, cardiac growth, hypertrophy, physiology, heart disease

A specific mixture of fatty acids circulating in the blood of pythons is responsible for an increase in the size of the animals’ hearts after feeding, according to a new report (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1210558). The identification of these molecules, which trigger pythons’ heart cells to expand so that the snakes can metabolize big meals, could lead to future therapies for heart disease in humans.

Although they sometimes fast for long periods between meals, when Burmese . . .

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