[ExI] Alcor’s new statement on ASC

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sat May 12 23:31:32 UTC 2018

I also sent this to Alcor's message board:


I was disappointed in Alcor’s official statement about ASC on page 8 of the
current issue of Cryonics, although it started well when Alcor recognized
there is "strong proof" that if ASC is used then:

> *"Aldehyde  Stabilized Cryopreservation (ASC)  brains can be preserved
> well enough at cryogenic temperatures for neural connectivity (the
> connectome) to be completely visualized "*

To me that is a pretty huge development but its even better than that
because not only is the connectome information retained when the brain is
frozen solid it can be completely visualized even when it has been warmed
back up to room temperature. This is especially impressive because, for
various technical reasons I can get into later if anybody is interested, I
think the warming up process almost certainly causes even more damage than
the freezing process.

> *“Current brain vitrification methods without fixation leads to
> dehydration”*

And more important the current method leads to the shrinkage of the brain
by 50%.

> *"Dehydration has effects on tissue contrast that makes it difficult to
> see whether the connectome is preserved or not with a electron microscope.
> That does not mean dehydration is especially damaging nor that fixation
> with toxic aldehyde does less damage”*

That statement makes no sense to me. If we can see  the connectome with an
Electron Microscope using ASC but we can’t see it with Alcor’s method then
obviously ASC has done less damage to it. I agree that doesn’t prove that
Alcor's method has produced unrecoverable damage, maybe a technology more
advanced than a Electron Microscope can still recover it, but I’d rather
not stake my life on a “maybe" if there is an alternative. In general the
very scale used to determine the degree of damaged something has sustained
is how hard it is to figure out what something looked like before the
damage occurred, and its easier to figure that out with ASC. And yes
aldehyde is toxic, but it is not very toxic, it is the active ingredient in
wart removing lotion that you can get at the drug store without a
prescription; I wouldn’t want to drink it but I wouldn’t want to drink
Alcor’s vitrification solution either.

> *"The M22 vitrification solution used in current brain vitrification
> technology is believed to be relatively gentle to molecules”*

Preserving all the molecules in the brain can’t be very important if long
term preservation of your personal identity is what you’re after because
most of molecules in the brain are small and don’t last long. For
example NO ( Nitrous oxide ) is a very small intermediary molecule that is
important in cell communication, but in the normal course of life
any particular NO molecule probably only exists for a few seconds at best.
I am more interested in preserving things that are not so ephemeral, like
the connectome and large proteins that should still be recognizable (but I
admit no longer functional) even after it has become cross linked
with aldehyde.

> *"because it preserves cell viability in other contexts” *

The term "cell viability” can be misleading because it often involves super
fast flash freezing of a microscopic cell by direct contact with a thing as
cold as liquid nitrogen, something not possible to do with a macroscopic
object like a human brain. And if cell viability was the only consideration
Alcor should have stayed with the method it used 10 years ago and not have
switched over to vitrification. In this study conventional cryopreservation
did a better job at preserving cell viability than vitrification in which
only 10% of the cells were viable.

Nevertheless I think Alcor made a smart decision a decade ago when they
switched to vitrification because it produced better Electron Microscope
pictures than the previous method did. It’s now time to make another smart

> *“Fixation is also known to increase freezing damage if cryoprotectant
> penetration is inadequate”*

Well yes, but the same is true for Alcor’s method and for every other
method if cryoprotectant penetration is inadequate.

> *"ASC is a research dead end on the road to developing reversible brain
> preservation in the near future”*

I think it's a pipe dream to expect reversible brain preservation to be
demonstrated by ANY method before full scale Drexler style Nanotechnology
is developed. If somebody manages to bring even a mouse back from liquid
nitrogen temperatures in the near future using Alcor's method I’ll eat my
words and forget about ASC. I would be delighted if that happened but I’m
not holding my breath.

By the way, Drexler was ahead of his time in more ways than one, in his
book "Engines Of Creation” he talks about something that sounds very much
like ASC, and that was 30 years ago.

> *“Certainly fixation results are likely to be much harder to reverse so as
> to restore biological viability”*

I disagree, I am very far from certain about that, in fact I am about as
far as its possible to get. To restore biological viability you’re going to
need information about what atom goes where, and from everything I’ve seen
ASC does a better job preserving that information than Alcor’s current
method. Electron Microscopes don’t lie.

> *"Robert McIntyre, the lead researcher at 21st Century Medicine , made a
> point during his presentation at the Alcor 2015 conference of recommending
> adoption of ASC in cryonics at this time.”*

I frankly can’t make heads or tails out of Robert McIntyre. He says we
should not use ASC until it undergoes the same exhausted testing that the
FDA insists any new drug must undergo, and that costs on average about a
billion dollars and takes at least a decade to finish; presumably he wants
to make sure it won’t make people worse by making them even deader than
they otherwise would be. In fact McIntyre’s company “Nectome” which he
cofounded says on the first page of its website that they are recommending
against using Alcor’s vitrification method too, "We believe that rushing to
apply vitrification today would be extremely irresponsible”.
Apparently McIntyre believes Alcor hasn't gone through a sufficient amount
of red tape and hasn't had enough "thoughtful discussions from medical
ethicists”, so people who have terminal cancer today are supposed to just
wait until those ethicists are satisfied. And that should happen sometime
in the next decade, or maybe the decade after that.

I think that’s just nuts. I won't mind waiting to be revived once I am
frozen, one year or a thousand years it will all seem the same to me; but I
most certainly will mind if I need to be frozen right now but have to wait
because those super-ethical people haven’t finished their thoughtful
discussions yet.

 John K Clark
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