- The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of keeping people out of hospital
- Preventative healthcare – through scientific innovation and better lifestyle – should play an important role in post-pandemic planning
Every winter, Martin Pate and his friends spend their Saturday mornings in a hypothermic state while swimming in the unheated lido at Hampstead Heath. Their hobby makes them the perfect candidates for a brain trial – not because they are bonkers, but because ‘cold shocks’ can trigger the development of a protein that protects against dementia.
In a 2015 rodent study, scientists at the University of Cambridge first discovered that the RMB3 protein forms after repeated exposure to hypothermic conditions and can lead to brain regeneration. Sidestepping the ethical ambiguity of causing hypothermia in humans by using trial participants who willingly plunge themselves into icy water, the scientists progressed their research by testing Mr Pate and his friends for RMB3. The study concluded that a significant number of the swimmers had elevated levels of the protein.