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Medicine Science

Suspended Animation In Mice Without Freezing 147

Predictions Market writes "Low doses of hydrogen sulfide, the toxic gas responsible for the unpleasant odor of rotten eggs, can safely and reversibly depress both metabolism and aspects of cardiovascular function in mice, producing a suspended-animation-like state that does not depend on a reduction in body temperature and include a substantial decrease in heart rate without a drop in blood pressure. The researchers measured factors such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, respiration, and physical activity in normal mice exposed to low-dose (80 ppm) hydrogen sulfide for several hours. In all the mice, metabolic measurements such as consumption of oxygen and production of carbon dioxide dropped in as little as 10 minutes after they began inhaling hydrogen sulfide, remained low as long as the gas was administered, and returned to normal within 30 minutes of the resumption of a normal air supply. 'Producing a reversible hypometabolic state could allow organ function to be preserved when oxygen supply is limited, such as after a traumatic injury,' says the lead author of the study. 'We don't know yet if these results will be transferable to humans, so our next step will be to study the use of hydrogen sulfide in larger mammals.' The full report is available online."
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Suspended Animation In Mice Without Freezing

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  • by Smordnys s'regrepsA ( 1160895 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:05AM (#22867376) Journal
    There are always places where harmful chemicals can be useful. Even if this causes damage/death after a few days/weeks/months, there are situations where it will prevent death that would occur in minutes.

    Just off the top of my head, mines. Mandatory pressurized bottle w/ masks at every junction in a mine, in case of collapse (I'm thinking it *has* to be less explosive than storing bottles of pure oxygen). If it slows oxygen consumption to 25% (pulled out of my ass, because examples need numbers!) of normal, that gives rescue workers 4 times a long to dig out live bodies.

    Once they are out, the hospitals/trained medical professionals can go about treating them for Crush Syndrome and for the poison that kept them alive by killing them slowly.
  • by sckeener ( 137243 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:59AM (#22868198)
    it's not for colonizing Alpha Centauri, mate, it's just while they haul you to ER.

    Baby steps...lets sleep to mars and then look to Alpha Centauri.

    Keep the bodies cold (not freezing) and let them sleep the entire way to Mars.

    Hook them up to a vitamin packed IV, so they don't starve. Even at their slowed rate, two years is a long time.

    Admittedly we might just do periodic wake ups so they can eat, stretch their muscles, and send status reports. The rate would just depend on the safety margin of the hibernation.

    This advance sounds like something extremely suited to exploring our solar system.
  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @02:57PM (#22872388) Homepage
    In the Vorkosigan saga (I know, not hard sci-fi)

    I'd say that the Vorkosigan stories are harder sci-fi than most. Sure, you've got to allow Bujold faster-than-light travel/communications, but everything else is pretty consistent. It's a far cry from space opera, even if it doesn't have rivets. A lot of her stories revolve (indirectly) around biology, and there she's on pretty solid (if speculative) ground.

    If you want to restrict "hard" sci-fi to stuff that doesn't break any laws of physics (or any other science) as we currently understand them, then you're pretty much talking about what I think these days is called "Mundane SF" -- a phrase which to me is an oxymoron.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson