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Researchers at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) in Barcelona have discovered that the LSM-1 protein, found in all living beings, protects against heat-stroke. The study, which was published in the journal RNA, used C. elegans, a type of worm used as a model animal in biomedical research, to show that transgenic worms with high levels of the protein were more resistant to sudden temperature rises than those with lower levels, who died.

To corroborate these findings, LSM-1 protein levels were raised in different types of transgenic worms to prove that the protein was the cause of the resistance to heat stroke, and not due an artifact of one of the transgenics.

"The transgenics showed an overexpression of protein in the genome or from the plasmids outside the genome. The worms were more resistant to heat in every case”, explained Julián Cerón, member of the IDIBELL research group.

Researchers also discovered that the protein sequence existed in the oldest forms of life, and that it also protects bacteria from changes to the environment. Summer heat waves have an increasingly damaging impact, exacerbating existing diseases, and this situation is aggravated further by climate change. According to a statement made by the Institute, 70,000 people died in Europe in 2003 as a result of the high temperatures.

This research could open up new lines of research, which is why the team is looking for funded projects. “The next step will be to investigate the physiological, pharmacological and/or nutritional factors that raise the levels of this protein", said Cerón.

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