Protein Antifreeze

From: John Clark (
Date: Wed Jan 05 2000 - 22:42:16 MST

I have no knowledge of the practical application of Cryonics so I'd like
to ask those that do if the following is a nutty idea. As I understand it
some otherwise promising cryoprotectants are rendered useless
because they're too viscous to infuse at body temperature, much
less during cool down. But what if you engineered a bacteria to produce
the cryoprotectant and then infused the bacteria; wouldn't that make the
viscosity of the substance irrelevant and as a bonus be dirt cheap too?

I got to thinking about this when I read at
about a super glue that mussels use to attach themselves to rocks. This
viscous super strong adhesive turns hard as a rock in about 60 seconds
and is made up of 5 proteins. Scientists have now cloned all five genes
that make the proteins so soon they'll be able to make the stuff by the ton,
before it took 10,000 mussels to produce one gram of the adhesive.

I recall that in the August 21 1997 issue of Nature there is an article by
Virginia K Walker and Peter L Davies about a protein in the cold resistant
mealworm insect that is the most powerful known organic antifreeze, 100
times as potent as the one found in arctic fish. It lowers the freezing point
but it also does something much more important, when things get really cold
and ice does form it does so as smooth hexagonal disks, not as dangerous
sharp edges and pointy spikes which is what you get without any antifreeze
or even if you use the one from arctic fish. Since only one protein is involved
not 5 I would imagine it would be easier make cryoprotectant than adhesive
but to my knowledge this has not been done, probably because most
think a new glue is far more valuable than a new cryoprotectant.

 John K Clark.

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