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Thread: Dead cell removal

  1. #1 Dead cell removal 
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    Is it possible to synthesize an enzyme to do what maggots do. Something to dissolve dead cells, but leave the living ones alone?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    A cell, especially a eukaryotic one, is a very complicated thing. It is made up of many different types of molecules that all need to be broken down in different ways. No single enzyme could do that all by itself. Your body already has a variety of mechanisms to take care of cells within it that die.


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  4. #3  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    As far as I know, maggots work on necrotic tissue by picking up on a host of signals and reacting quite selectively. An enzyme is far too simple a thing to replicate that.
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  5. #4 Reference 
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    That's odd. I have been researching maggots, and have found that it's not that they select the cells, but that the enzyme they emit dissolves dead cells only. If they start trying to eat live cells, the cells get irritated by the enzyme, not dissolved. It takes hours of exposure to the enzyme for live cells to die. It takes minutes for dead cells to start dissolving. So, if you could synthesize the enzyme, and flush the body with a diluted solution, you could clean out the dead cells. The dead cells clogging the body and skin are a major cause of aging and body breakdown.Go to http://library.thinkquest.org/J0111742/maggots.htm
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  6. #5  
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    No, no that's simply untrue, the analogy in your link is true of diabetic feet as the maggots prevent infection of the wound by removing dead cells which would otherwise be a food supply for bacteria. Although yes this is a chemical process it is also somewhat mechanical so to introduce it to the body may not be effective (without even mentioning how potentially dangerous it may be!)

    In any case his does not hold true for cells within the body. yes dead cells do need to be mopped upand this is done by immune cells. The majority of dead cells die by apoptosis, which is a regulated process in which the cells form neat digestable packages for the immune cells to phagocytose. This would not apply to cells which had died by necrosis which is what you are discussing here.

    In any case, (although I cannot give a definitive answer), the products of such an enzyme may not be any more appealing than the digestive products of an enzyme that did target dead cells and would still have to be dealt with either by the kidneys or liver, or again, by the immune system, which would make the entire process unnecessary.

    Finally, I don't actually think maggots do have such an enzyme as paralith has said. Maggots ingest the dead cells then digest them, just as we digest our food, this is a complicated process involving many enzymes and chemical reactions.

    he dead cells clogging the body and skin are a major cause of aging and body breakdown.
    could you explain what you mean by this, I'm pretty sure this is not true!
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  7. #6  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    It seems to be a mix of the two, they rake up dead cells and consume them, but they also release digestive enzymes to speed up decomposition. They also use symbiotic bacteria to speed up digestion.

    http://www.deathonline.net/decomposi...es/maggots.htm

    Warning link contains some graphic images of maggots eating animal corpses.
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  8. #7 Re: Reference 
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Moll
    That's odd. I have been researching maggots, and have found that it's not that they select the cells, but that the enzyme they emit dissolves dead cells only. If they start trying to eat live cells, the cells get irritated by the enzyme, not dissolved. It takes hours of exposure to the enzyme for live cells to die. It takes minutes for dead cells to start dissolving.
    You may be correct, but for the selectivity you want it sounds as if you can't really afford to expose live cells to the enzyme either. I would guess the maggots selectively deposit it?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Moll
    So, if you could synthesize the enzyme, and flush the body with a diluted solution, you could clean out the dead cells. The dead cells clogging the body and skin are a major cause of aging and body breakdown.Go to http://library.thinkquest.org/J0111742/maggots.htm
    Firstly, that's a theory of ageing I've never heard... you sure about that one? Secondly, flushing a dilute solution of the enzyme through the circulation, assuming it works as you say, is no simple task and not guaranteed to be functional at all. I imagine to work on necrotic tissue requires a relatively high local concentration, which your prep would not allow. It may also not survive long in circulation and could very easily trigger immune responses. Thirdly, the vast majority of cell death in animals is not due to necrosis at all, it is due to apoptosis. This is a controlled process whereby the cell causes itself to degenerate whereupon it is consumed by other local cells. So it is not a process that needs help. Necrosis generally only occurs due to physical injury, poisoning or burning.
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