Canadian scientists characterize potent antifreeze…

from the Do-not-go-gently dept.

Preventing damage by ice crystals is one of the major challenges to successful cryopreservation of humans and other organisms. But it's known that some relatively large animals do survive freezing.

A press release describes work by researchers from Queen's University and the University of Alberta who have "gleaned the precise structure of winter protection proteins derived from insects." The antifreeze proteins were found to be up to 100 times more powerful than similar proteins found in fish.

In two studies published in the 27 July 2000 issue of Nature, Queen's biochemist Dr. Peter Davies and his colleagues describe the unusual beta helix structure of the antifreeze proteins, the secret to some insects' ability to survive winters in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius.

The new findings build on earlier research that explained how ocean fish survive Arctic waters as a result of the antifreeze proteins in their blood. Four years ago, the Queen's biochemists revealed the structural basis for how the fish proteins bind irreversibly to ice crystals and stop them from growing.

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