While soil scientists study the role of the Tardigrade in the microbial communities that make up healthy soil, other scientists are looking at the resilience of the Tardigrade for other beneficial uses. A common and nearly indestructible soil organism, the Tardigrade or Water Bear, creates a sugar called “trehalose” which allows the tardigrade to survive without water, in a dehydrated state, for decades. Scientists are experimenting with trehalose as a preservative for human blood. They are extracting trehalose from tardigrades and other animals that produce it, such as brine shrimp. Experimental results so far indicate that by injecting trehalose into blood cells, the cells can survive dehydration at room temperature. If this proves to be effective, after human trials with the rehydrated blood, it will be possible to store human blood for pandemics, for medical use where refrigeration is not available, even for use by colonists on Mars.
Read more at the Scientific American.