Arenicola, the super-worm that will save your life


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Arenicola_marinaDr. Franck Zal, co-founder of the Hemarina Society and a bronze medalist at the CNRS (the French national center for scientific research) for his studies on hemoglobin in annelids, has no doubt: it will be the arenicola, the common sea worm, that will save humans.


In the course of his research, Zal discovered two incredible properties of the blood of this invertebrate (we know it’s an earthworm this one in the side photo, but the image seemed very fitting!):

– Has 50 times more oxygen-carrying capacity than human blood.
– Is compatible with all kinds of blood types. A feature that suggests future applications in the medical field (primarily organ preservation pending transplantation).

The characteristics of the superworm are determined by the fact that its hemoglobin is extra-cellular, unlike human hemoglobin, which is “constricted” inside red blood cells. When you see a sea arenicola on the beach, don’t run away disgusted, or even squash it, and think twice before you set it on your hook. In the future, it may save your life.




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