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Medicine Biotech

Researchers Successfully Achieve Suspended Animation With Mouse Embryos ( 28

"It was completely surprising. We were standing around in the tissue culture room, scratching our heads, and saying 'Wow, what do we make of this?'" An anonymous reader quotes Engadget's report on new research with "huge implications": A team of scientists from the University of California, San Francisco only wanted to slow down mice embryos' cell growth in the lab. Instead, they managed to completely pause their development, putting the blastocysts (very early embryos) in suspended animation for a month. What's more, they found that the process can put stem cells derived from the blastocysts in suspended animation as well, [and] the researchers were able to prove that the embryos can develop normally even after a pause in their growth. Team member Ramalho-Santos from the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research said... "To put it in perspective, mouse pregnancies only last about 20 days, so the 30-day-old 'paused' embryos we were seeing would have been pups approaching weaning already if they'd been allowed to develop normally."
The new research could lead to better treatments for damaged organs and even aging, according to the article. (Besides, of course, its science fiction-y implications for long-distance space travel...)
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Researchers Successfully Achieve Suspended Animation With Mouse Embryos

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  • by lobiusmoop ( 305328 ) on Sunday November 27, 2016 @03:41PM (#53372591) Homepage

    For that sort of thing, bacteria are a much better bet. Much more hardy than higher Earth-evolved species and proven to survive in suspended animation over the geological time-scales involved in interstellar travel. []

    • Great, now you just need to explain what the point of sending bacteria on a long-distance space trip would be...

      • by Vastad ( 1299101 )

        To take a proactive role in Panspermia []. I think our terrestrial bacteria, water bears and extremophiles should be seeded on as many suitable planets as possible. We're not going to be around forever so we should definitely get as much potential for new sapient life to evolve somewhere else. Or at least an eon or two of life on some previously uninteresting backwater planet that had no previous chance of having life evolve the "hard way" on it.

    • Your statement depends on an assumption that General Relativity is correct above the speed of light. An assumption for which there is less proof than .. astrology, geocentric solar system, hollow Earth theory, flat Earth theory, Biblical creationism, Barney the dinosaur... Above the speed of light general relativity defines a universe with no spatial stability, and that only makes sense in a universe that is a simulation or otherwise doesn't exist.. The only type of FTL theory that does work logically is an

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Sunday November 27, 2016 @03:46PM (#53372607)

    It also means that we can now inexpensively stockpile stemcells without appreciable loss. Freezing is expensive, and it is costly in time and other resources to store and retrieve tissues that way.

    Since this is a chemical doping technique, this would allow us to store regenerative stemcells much the way we store whole blood, or perhaps even longer, using simple refrigeration techniques.

    This could have wide reaching implications in stemcell based regenerative medicine, since humans could inexpensively bank the cultures now.

  • by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Sunday November 27, 2016 @03:59PM (#53372653) Homepage Journal

    Instead, they managed to completely pause their development, putting the blastocysts (very early embryos) in suspended animation for a month.

    Depending on availability of water and food, mama roo (and mama wallaby) can suspend her regular four-week pregnancy by up to two years (see embyonic diapause [] — it is not unique to marsupials).

    This suggests two things:

    • the mechanisms used by the animals in nature, may also be applicable to us;
    • the suspension, however achieved, may not be infinite — there could be a point, after which the embryo, may not, in fact, resume normal development.
  • From the article "They used a drug that inhibited the activities of a protein called mTOR, which regulates different cellular processes. By inhibiting the protein, they also inhibit the cells' activities."

    I wonder if this might prove useful for stopping runaway tumors.

  • Nice. []

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday November 27, 2016 @05:45PM (#53373125)

    We were standing around in the tissue culture room, scratching our heads

    Well, I suppose that's one way to get samples.

  • Ageing is not the only problem of space travel. When outside of Earth magnetic field, the space traveler is hit by high energy cosmic particle that damage DNA.

    And while you are in "animation suspension", things may get worse because cellular DNA repair mechanism are switched off.

  • So lets say the Dr. finds something wrong with pregnant woman that requires treatment, but the treatment has to be completed before the baby is born because the stress of pregnancy along with her ailment might kill her. This might be just what they needed. Put the baby in a suspended state until the treatment has finished. Perhaps this could also be used in a situation where they baby might die as a result of its own body processing the treatment. If it could be suspended, it may survive.
  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @02:51AM (#53375403)
    This must be how the Brain is finally going to take over the eartht!

    They're Pinky and the Brain

    Yes, Pinky and the Brain

    One is a genius, the other's other insane

    They're laboratory mice

    Their genes have been spliced

    They're Pinky, they're Pinky and the Brain

    Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain


    Before each night is done

    Their plan will be unfurled

    By the dawning of the sun

    They'll take over the world

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern