IT WAS one of the oddest experiments in the history of dentistry. In the early 1950s a researcher called Benjamin Kamrin was looking into the causes of tooth decay. To do so, he turned to that scientific stalwart, the lab rat. Specifically, he cut small patches of skin from pairs of rats and then sutured the animals together at the site of the wound. After about a week of being joined in this way, the animals’ blood vessels began to merge. The result was two rats whose hearts pumped blood around a shared circulatory system. This state of affairs is called parabiosis.
Parabiosis works best on animals that are closely related genetically. By getting his rats to share blood, as well as genes, and then feeding the animals a variety of diets, Kamrin hoped to prove (which he did) that it was sugar in food, and not some inherent deficiency in individuals, that was responsible for rotting their teeth….
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