Re: Suspended Animation

Paul Wakfer (70023.3041@CompuServe.COM)
30 Nov 96 22:52:27 EST

On Sat, 30 Nov 1996 04:17:06, Michael Lorrey <> wrote:

>But hypothermia is an induced metabolic suspension, with the body still
>burning sugars at the normal rate, etc.

This is incorrect. Neither the "burning" of glucose or anything else takes
place at the same rate during hypothermia. Eg. the heart rate does
naturally slow down and eventually stops altogether at about 16'C. The
major problem with hypothermia is that various biological reaction rates
decrease with temperature by very different rates. The relationship of
these rates is optimal for human life at or just below (sometimes just
above) normal body temperature, 37'C. The only other boundary point of
temperature at which the human body is viable over a long timespan is below
the "glass transition" temperature of the cryoprotectant cocktail/tissue
mixture. A "safe" value for this temperature is -140'C.

>A true metabolic suppression should be experienced as conciously as though
>the rest of the world was speeding up around you, while the subject slows

I agree this sounds great, but unfortunately reality doesn't always help
with our bright ideas of what the world could and should be like. No such
mechanism of suppression exists and the work of trying to find one (with
all the different biochemical processes taking place in the body) would be
an enormously greater problem (most likely not solvable) than finding a
whole-body reversible vitrification protocol. This last job is basically
just technological hunting. If it can be done (and the design space of
cryoprotectants -- even of untried combinations -- is very large), not a
lot of "fundamental" research should be required. That is the reason why
the project is as "inexpensive" as it is (compared with more fundmental
open-ended research) and why a time-to-completion can be estimated.

>>>Such drug induced hybernation in my opinion is much more realizable and
>>>most probably less damaging.
>>No hibernating animals, even frozen frogs and fish, can survive in that
>>state for longer than the normal amount of time for which they hibernate
>>(less than a year).
>Sure, because they don't need to. Do we know how they can stay under
>that long? if so this should be used as a safe interim solution for
>doubling or tripling terminal patients life expectancy by repeated
>hybernations with interim waking periods for refueling etc...

This has been looked into. In my opinion it would require a genetic
supplementation of human DNA with the appropriate animal DNA to produce the
neccessary anti-ice crystal proteins and anti-freeze chemicals when
prompted by some triggering agent. In any case, doubling or tripling a 6
months life expectancy period for a terminal patient, simply isn't going to
cut it.

>I read a big article in Discover Magazine years ago (mid 80s) by a
>doctor who had gone on a house call early in his career. When he got
>there, he took care of the patient, then noticed a rather still
>individual in a chair. "oh thats just grandpa" they said. He had a pulse
>of one or two beats a minute. According to the family he had been this
>way for a decade or so. Upon thyroid treatment, he was brought back to
>normal metabolic rates, only to find that he was terminal with a large
>tumor that had also been dormant during that period....

I will ask my friend Steve Harris, MD about this, but I'm pretty certain
this must be an exaggeration. Yes, extreme hypothyroidism can slow down
many bodily processes, but it can kill you too, because it, again, does so
unevenly with respect to different body systems. And you still have to eat
and eliminate waste, and the institutional care costs would be
astronomical. One of the benefits of suspended animation will be that it
will allow more people who can't afford enormously costly operations (often
of only of short-term benefit) to be, less expensively, sent into the
future where their problems can be cheaply and easily fixed.

-- Paul -- Phone: 416-968-6291 Pager: 800-805-2870


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