Python’s heart-restoring elixir works in mice

Chemical brew used by snakes to build cardiac muscle could help humans

2:27pm, October 27, 2011

Maybe there’s something to snake oil after all. A mix of compounds called fatty acids identified in pythons can spur an exercise-like boost in the size of mouse hearts.

In a test of basic biology, the three fatty acids identified in the blood of Burmese pythons boosted the mass of a heart chamber in lab mice by 10 percent in just a week, researchers report in the Oct. 28 Science. The snakes naturally enlarge their own hearts by some 40 percent in two to three days after eating one of their huge but rare meals. Between meals, python hearts and many other organs shrivel again.

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