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Smithsonian's National Zoo / Flickr CC

Naked mole-rats can survive up to 18 minutes deprived of oxygen — without damaging tissues or vital organs, a new study shows. Mice in a zero-oxygen environment died in 20 seconds; naked mole-rats in that same environment lost consciousness, but then resumed breathing when they were exposed to air. They rejoined their colony without any signs of brain damage or behavioral problems.

Sound smart: The process the oxygen-deprived naked mole-rats switch to in order to avoid brain and tissue damage is fructose-driven glycolysis.

How they do it: Naked mole-rats have learned to live underground, where they've adapted to lower oxygen levels (and higher carbon dioxide levels) than the rest of us who live above ground. As a result, mole-rats switch to another energy pathway when there's no oxygen. They shut down one pathway — converting energy for our body through the breathing process — and switch to another that metabolizes glucose (the only energy source the brain and red blood cells can use) and avoids the build-up of fructose in tissues, which causes damage.

Why it matters to us: Humans suffer severe or permanent damage to tissue after only a few minutes when the brain is deprived of oxygen. While free divers have learned how to hyperventilate with pure oxygen and then hold their breath for much longer periods of time (the world record is 22 minutes), ordinary humans don't have that luxury. This new research will help scientists with new strategies for preventing tissue damage in heart disease and stroke patients.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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