[ExI] Suspended-animation cold sleep achieved in lab

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Wed Jun 16 09:40:36 UTC 2010

Suspended-animation cold sleep achieved in labStarship freezer podules
(well, medical apps) foreseen

By Lewis Page<http://forms.theregister.co.uk/mail_author/?story_url=/2010/06/11/suspended_animation_in_lab/>•
more from this author <http://search.theregister.co.uk/?author=Lewis%20Page>
Top boffins in the States believe that they may be on the track of a way to
place living human beings into suspended animation, allowing them to survive
long periods effectively frozen before being "reanimated" with no ill

Dr Mark Roth, based at a Seattle cancer laboratory, got interested in
suspended animation after looking at several cases where this has occurred
spontaneously in humans.

One well-known case is that of Canadian toddler Erica Nordby, who wandered
outside in the winter of 2001 wearing only her nappy. In the bitter cold her
heart stopped beating for two hours and her body temperature plunged to just
16°C* before she was rescued, warmed - and came miraculously back to life,
despite having literally frozen to death.

In another case a Japanese man, Mitsutaka Uchikoshi, fell asleep on a snowy
mountainside in 2006. He was found 23 days later with a core body
temperature of just 22°C*. He too was successfully reanimated having
suffered no appreciable ill effects.

"There are many examples in the scientific literature of humans who appear
frozen to death. They have no heartbeat and are clinically dead. But they
can be reanimated," says Dr Roth.

Roth and his colleagues wondered how it is that some people can enter a
state of frozen suspended animation and then recover from it safely, whereas
in general such a change of body temperature is deadly.

The scientists now think they may be on the track of an answer, having
learned how to perform the same trick reliably with other lifeforms; in this
case yeasts and nematode worms.

Yeasts and worms, like humans, will normally simply die if they are chilled
down past a certain point. But Roth and his colleagues have found that if
the little creatures are starved of oxygen before turning on the cold, they
will go into suspended animation from which they recover on warming and go
on to live normal yeasty or wormy lives.

Here's an illustrative vid from the team:

  "We wondered if what was happening with the organisms in my laboratory was
also happening in people like the toddler and the Japanese mountain
climber," says Roth. "Before they got cold did they somehow manage to
decrease their oxygen consumption? Is that what protected them? Our work in
nematodes and yeast suggests that this may be the case, and it may bring us
a step closer to understanding what happens to people who appear to freeze
to death but can be reanimated."

The idea here is not so much to place people into deep freeze in order to
endure lengthy interstellar voyages, a staple idea in science fiction but
unlikely in the near future (humanity is struggling even to assemble a Mars
mission right now).

Rather, Roth and his colleagues think that their work might lead to
techniques that would let paramedics or doctors "buy time" for severely
injured or ill patients by putting them into suspended states like those
achieved by Nordby and Uchikoshi. Then, once the underlying problem had been
fixed, they could be reanimated.

Full details of the research are published online ahead of print in the
journal *Molecular Biology of the Cell*,
link). ®

*Normal adult core body temperature is 37°C, a trifle lower for kids. Any
variation of much more than a degree is cause for serious concern; several
degrees' sustained variation is a probably fatal medical emergency of one
kind or another.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20100616/8fe8e463/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list