FAIRBANKS- Scientists at UAF are trying to create life–saving medicine by studying the mechanisms behind hibernation in arctic ground squirrels. They want to create a similar cooling effect in other mammals, like rats, and someday, maybe humans. Professor Kelly Drew is guiding the team and says their goal is to chill patients of traumatic injuries and make them feel comfortable. "Being able to cool gives people a second chance,” Drew says, because it reduces damage caused by the body’s response to some injuries.
While doctors can already cool patients, the big challenge they want to overcome is the body’s natural response to cold. As people cool, the body will fight the cooling through shivering, which can create more problems. Drew told us "Really hibernation is energy conservation and by doing that you can improve outcomes.” She says this research could be useful for patients with long transport times to a hospital.