2007-05-25

Conference: Advances in Human Cryopreservation, May 18-20, 2007 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.A.

Notes Part 4 of 4

I can only vaguely reconstruct the great announcement at the end of Saturday’s banquet. I wasn’t taking notes, the announcement was very detailed, and I was beginning to suffer just a little fatigue from the day’s activities. So a caveat about everything I say about it.

An anonymous donor has funded a multimillion-dollar grant proposal by Greg Fahy to work toward successful reversible suspended animation. The 3-year project, staffed with half a dozen scientists in a new facility, will extend over 3 phases:

Phase 1 will identify an optimal method for vitrifying the body from a physical point of view in rabbits. Phase 2 will verify and extend Phase 1 results in larger mammals and possibly human cadavers donated for non-cryonics medical research. Phase 3 will work toward true suspended animation (biologically reversible whole body vitrification).

Greg made the case for whole-body work as a “pathway to medical acceptance/understanding” of cryonics and a convenient way to accelerate work on cryopreserving all individual organs.

Phase 1 itself is slated to take 3 years, and in essence seems to be an attempt to perfect vitrification itself (not its reversal). The problem so far seems to be that bodies don’t vitrify perfectly, evenly, in every nook and cranny. This will mean revisiting methods of perfusion, visualizing the results of vitrification by slices, and then focusing attention on problem areas of the body where ice or other damage occurs. The research project will also look into the consequences of “postmortem” delays, typical in cryonics cases. The research will require the construction of novel methods and equipment for slicing and imaging samples. The facility will also have its own scanning electron microscope.

As far as I know, until the last five years or so, true suspended animation was not a long-term goal even for researchers affiliated with cryonics. Even when considered as a distant possibility, it was approached in mincing steps by work on vitrifying individual organs (extending work done over three decades). This research project seems to finally vault toward the goal. In 3 years, with luck, we should have some idea of whether the overall approach using vitrification is likely feasible. At best, whole body vitrification will have been perfected (at least for rabbits!). At worst, relentless failure will force the researchers back to the drawing board.

Handouts at the conference included the beautiful, detailed reprint of the l’Arca magazine piece on the Timeship design. What once seemed an improbably fantastic edifice now seems to be still moving toward realization. Timeship is slated to hold not only thousands of human cryopreserved patients (in intermediate temperature storage), but also other biological samples of life from our era and research labs, all in a location (yet to be announced) safe from natural disasters.

Another handout was Matthew Sullivan’s article, “Diversifying Cryonics into Mainstream Corporate America”, offering various suggestions for professionalizing and medicalizing cryonics service providers by methods such as outsourcing and alignment with industry standards.

4 comments:

Phil said...

Interesting report Arcturus. Thanks.

Arcturus Gregory said...

Thanks Phil!

Danila said...

Thanks a lot, very interesting.

Mathew said...

Hi,

You can find the article online at www.mathewsullivan.com