The author of Arcturan Times attended the Advances in Human Cryopreservation conference held last month in Florida, and returned with copious notes. Great stuff for those following progress towards economic viability and scientific progress in the cryonics industry. The holy grail is a company that can grow large through sale and licensing of cryotechnologies for general medical use, while producing profit enough to continue the work of offering cryonic suspension - and a chance at a future - to those who will not live into the coming age of greatly extended longevity.
Next, Greg Fahy, of Twenty-First Century Medicine (21CM) talked about his unpublished 2007 research, partly funded by an NIH grant, to use vitrification to preserve corneas for transplantation after long-distance transport. Vitrified corneas transplanted with better results than unvitrified corneas in a monkey model.
Greg also updated us on the study of the vitrified and thawed rat hippocampal slices. Looking for the ability to display electrical activity, he found 70% neural firing at up to 45 days, about the same as would be found in slices that had not been vitrified. He thus concludes that vitrification has no effect on neural firing or viability.
Ben Best spoke about the Cryonics Institute and the recent public release of its vitrification formula.
Stephen Van Sickle gave us the numbers about Alcor - founded in 1972, 820 members, and 76 patients, and $2.5 million in the Patient Care Trust. Alcor’s current research plans include cardiovascular bypass studies using a rat model. Operating on rats’ vasculature is obviously a challenge in itself. The research is intended to aid whole body vitrification work.
Rudi Hoffman kicked off a new sort of panel, one focused on the financial implications of cryonics. Rudi is the most prominent life insurance agent and financial planner for cryonicists. (Most cryonics arrangements are funded by an ordinary life insurance policy.) Rudi reminded us that dead people, in US law, have no legal standing.
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).
Well now - that's a big deal, and a lot of money from a perspective of cryonics funding to date. Congratulations are due to the donor and the rainmakers; the cryonics folk are clearly catching up with those other portions of the healthy life extension community to have engineered fundraising success in the past few years. Vitrification has the look of a technology with valuable spin-off applications; this development has a chance of building the base upon which a more self-sustaining, growth-oriented cryonics industry can form. All to the good, and best of luck to those folk doing the heavy lifting.
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