Scientists have been able to force mice into a state of hibernation by having them breathe hydrogen sulfide. The gas is normally lethal in high
doses, but at the right dosage it seems to force the mice into a very low metabolic state. Scientists are hoping further research will lead to the
ability to force a similar type of human hibernation.
WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) - Mice forced to breathe hydrogen sulfide -- known best for its rotten egg smell -- go into a kind of suspended
animation, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a finding that may help save human lives.
Although hydrogen sulfide gas is toxic in high doses, it may activate some of the mechanisms that cause other animals to go into hibernation, they
wrote in this week's issue of the journal Science.
Finding a safe way to do this in humans could lead to new ways to treat cancer and prevent injury or death from blood loss, or help people undergo and
recover from surgery better, said the team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
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This could be a very important discovery, should scientists be able to understand and harness the effects they have seem on mice in the laboratory.
The scientists are reporting that the gas slows the metabolic rate of the mice to a point where the body has a significantly reduced need for oxygen.
This allows the mice to maintain life in a soft of suspended fashion until the gas is removed and metabolism returns to normal. At this time, the
scientists have found no negative effects on the mice after recovery.
If this technology can be translated without negative effect to the human species, it should literally change the way we deal with sickness, travel,
and more. As the article sites, a patient with a major organ failure waiting for a transplant donor could be put into a state of hibernation until a
suitable organ is found and delivered, effectively "buying time" for the patient. Right now, it doesn't seem effective for long periods of time,
but if that were to chage, imagine the possibilites. For space travel, we could have out astronauts "hibernate" for long space journeys, arriving
at their destination months, years, or even decades after they leave without very minimal physical aging or impact. Critically wounded could be
placed into a state of "hibernation" until medical attention could be given, which could save uncounted lives in both everyday emergency services,
or even on the battefield in times of was.
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Related AboveTopSecret.com Discussion Threads:
New Hibernation Technique Might Work on Humans
[edit on 22-4-2005 by cohiba]