FYI: reversible rat heart cryosuspension purported (ripped from CryoNet #6856)

Eugene Leitl (
Mon, 9 Sep 1996 13:32:50 +0200 (MET DST)

Disclaimer: This forward is _not_ meant as Alcor propaganda. Far
from it. (Actually, I consider current bout of mutual name-calling on
Cryonet extremely antiproductive, to say the very least).

Nevertheless the fact of the purportedly first reversible crypreservation
of a macroscopic organ (if indeed true) is pretty interesting, imo.

| mailto: | transhumanism >H, cryonics, |
| mailto: | nanotechnology, etc. etc. |
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Message #6856
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 1996 20:54:30 -0400
Subject: SCI. CRYONICS announcement


Joint Announcement of Cryonics Institute and Alcor Life Extension Foundation

RAT HEARTS REVIVED FROM LIQUID NITROGEN--this milestone in cryobiology has
been confirmed at the Alcor facility during the week of Aug. 30-Sep. 4, 1996.

The achievement was reported last year from the University of Pretoria, South
Africa, by Michelle Olga Visser, who used a new cryoprotective agent (CPA).
She also reported submitting a paper on the experiment to CRYOBIOLOGY, with
three co-authors at her university, in December 1995.

Mrs. Visser is Head of Research, Department of Thoracic Surgery, Faculty of
Medicine, University of Pretoria. She is a perfusionist by training and
practice, working for the University hospital and also as an independent
contractor. She is a Ph.D. candidate in cryobiology, whose studies include
physiology and pharmacology.

She has been doing research in organ cryopreservation for the last three
years, after having started the first homograft bank in Pretoria eight years
ago at her department. She set up this bank to store heart valves harvested
for re-implantation, using standard cryo procedures (DMSO), and developed an
interest in developing a method for organs.

Her original report was met with general skepticism or indifference, and
publication has apparently been delayed by requests for revisions. But
Anatole Dolinoff, president of the Cryonics Society of France, suggested that
Mrs. Visser get in touch with Robert Ettinger, and extensive discussions by
e-mail followed. CI and Alcor invited her and her husband Siegfried to come
to Arizona as our guests and demonstrate the Visser method with rat hearts.
This was finally done, and we have seen first-hand the confirmation of this
accomplishment--arguably the most important since 1948, when Jean Rostand
froze frog sperm with glycerol.

The Vissers were assisted in the Alcor building, in a lab used and lent by
CryoSearch Inc., by biochemist Hugh Hixon and by other Alcor people including
Rhonda Iacuzzo and Tanya Jones. Witnesses included Steve Bridge, Mike Perry,
Robert and Mae Ettinger, Fred and Linda Chamberlain, David Pizer, Paul
Garfield, Ralph Whelan, Brian Shock, Derek Ryan, and Mathew Sullivan. Fred
and Linda also helped with some of the chores, including videotaping.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF RESULTS: It wasn't smooth going. The equipment was
different than the Vissers were accustomed to, and some of it was not
compatible; and human error is easy with small animal organs. There were
several failures during several long days of work. But there were also two
hearts that showed weak beating and one that showed strong beating, after
rewarming from liquid nitrogen temperature. This is unequivocal proof that
the Visser technique (at least as applied to rat hearts) is far superior to
anything previously reported.

Control hearts--immersed in liquid nitrogen in the same manner but not
perfused--showed gross damage, including cracking, and no signs of life.

Because of limitations of equipment, the hearts were kept in liquid nitrogen
for only a half minute to a minute--but the temperature probe showed core
temperature within a few degrees of that of liquid nitrogen, - 196 C or - 320
F. Once such a temperature is reached, it is generally agreed that the length
of time of storage does not matter. Mrs. Visser reports that the longest she
has kept hearts in liquid nitrogen is 45 minutes, and these were successfully
revived. Alcor personnel will be working to establish a reliable, routine
experimental protocol, and will be storing rat hearts for longer periods.
Cryonics Institute also plans to test longer term storage of various organs.

BRAINS: For cryonics, results with brains are the most important. There are
experimental and theoretical reasons to think the Visser method will work
well with brains also. The CPA penetrates the blood-brain barrier.
Preliminary experiments at Alcor with rat brains show normal appearance to
the naked eye and under the light microscope (but we do not yet have

LIMITATIONS OF THIS REPORT: Pending journal publication of their paper, the
authors do not want to publicize the identity of the CPA or other details of
the procedure, or to discuss the mechanism of cryoprotection. Patents have
been applied for, or soon will be, in South Africa and several other
countries, by Cryopreservation Technologies cc, the South African corporation
in which Mr. and Mrs. Visser are majority shareholders.

CRYONICS LICENSING AGREEMENT: In return for help in funding their further
research, the Vissers have given CI and Alcor exclusive license to use their
present and future technology for cryonics purposes. This includes the right
to sub-license.

PERSONAL NOTES: The Vissers formed an excellent working relationship with
Hugh Hixon--who impressed everyone with his resourcefulness in adapting
equipment--as well as with other Alcor people including Rhonda Iacuzzo and
Tanya Jones. The Vissers stayed with Mae and Bob Ettinger, and were pleasant,
considerate, and extremely interesting guests. There were many long
conversations on a variety of topics- especially between the Vissers and Mae,
since Bob was often tied up with other duties. Mr. Visser, a consulting
engineer, understands the Visser method
thoroughly and acts as lab partner; he is also the main business person in
the Vissers' company. Mrs. Visser, despite her amazing energy, drive, and
perfectionism, is also kind and understanding.

NON-CRYONICS RESEARCH: A priority of the Visser group is to pursue research
with large animal organs, in preparation for transplant experiments, leading
up to human cryogenic organ banking. There are reasons to believe there is a
very large potential market for such technology--not only including such
traditional transplant candidates as kidney, heart, liver, pancreas, corneas
etc., but also limbs or digits, glands such as thyroid, and others.

TIME HORIZONS: When Mrs. Visser has funding, she estimates 8 months to a year
to prove pig organ transplants. After that, the time required to get
permission for human clinical trials, and to run those trials, and then to
get regulatory approval, depends on the country or countries of choice and
other factors. All told, perhaps 3 to 5 years. The demand for transplants,
and the life-saving nature of the technology, might expedite matters,
compared to customary procedures.

For 100% proof of reversible cryopreservation of the human brain, we know of
no reliable way to make even a rough guess. It will take as long as it takes.
But with the Visser method we have a running start--and it seems very
possible that our cryonics patients will very soon have much better
suspensions than any previously available.

Robert C.W. Ettinger, President, Cryonics Institute

Stephen W. Bridge, President, Alcor Life Extension Foundation