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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

Updated 26 mins ago - World

U.S. threatens to cut aid to Sudan after military takeover

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

The latest: The head of the military faction of the Sudanese government, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that he is announcing a state of emergency, suspending several parts of the interim constitution and dissolving the civilian government and interim sovereignty council — the highest governing body in the country.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.

3D-printed houses seem poised to go mainstream

A rendering of a planned 3D-printed, net-zero-energy community in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Photo: Mighty Buildings

3D-printed cement houses are about to take off, offering a cheaper, more efficient way to provide homes for those who need them — as long as they can be built in ways that don't worsen climate change.

Why it matters: Developers of 3D-printed homes think they can take on multiple challenges: the affordable housing crisis, the shortage of skilled labor and rising material costs.

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