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Cryogenic Suspension For Humans In Two Years

Cryogenic suspension, the cold sleep of science-fiction fame, may be ready for human testing within the next two years.

Veterinary surgeon Mike Duggan demonstrated how deep chilling of the body - to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or less - can stretch the time available to trauma surgeons. By draining the blood from a pig, and then replacing it with a chilled organ-preservation fluid, metabolic processes slow to a crawl. Brain activity stops.

The fluid is a combination of salts, sugars and free-radical scavengers. After several hours, warm blood is reintroduced; the pig begins to stir and starts to breathe on its own. Four hours later, the pig is resting comfortably, apparently none the worse for the lapse in life.

Robert Heinlein wrote about cold-rest in his 1941 book Methuselah's Children. He provides a bit more detail in this excerpt from his 1956 novel The Door Into Summer:

It had been known since the '30s that the human body could be chilled until it slowed down to almost nothing. But it had been a laboratory trick, or a last-resort therapy, until the Six Weeks War. I'll say this for military research: if money and men can do it, it gets results. Print another billion, hire another thousand scientists and engineers, then in some incredible, left-handed, inefficient fashion the answers come up. Stasis, cold sleep, hibernation, hypothermia, reduced metabolism, call it what you will - the logistics-medicine research teams had found a way to stack people like cordwood and use them when needed.
(Read more about cold sleep stasis)

Take a look at the similar substance HetaCool - Your Personal Antifreeze?. Read a bit more at Wired.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/15/2006)

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