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Suspended animation protects against lethal hypothermia, study shows
Date:6/10/2010

al clinical benefits of metabolic flexibility from anoxia-induced reversible suspended animation to metabolic hibernation brought on by exposure to agents such as hydrogen sulfide. The ultimate goal of this work is to find ways to temporarily lower metabolism like dialing down a dimmer switch on a lamp as a means to "buy time" for patients in trauma situations, such as victims of heart attack or blood-loss injury, by reducing their need for oxygen until definitive medical care can be given.

Roth first got the idea to study the link between anoxia-induced suspended animation and hypothermia from documented cases in which humans have managed to make complete recoveries after apparently freezing to death. Widely publicized cases include Canadian toddler Erica Nordby, who in the winter of 2001 wandered outside clad only in a diaper. Her heart had stopped beating for two hours and her body temperature had plummeted to 61 degrees Fahreneit before she was discovered, rewarmed and resuscitated. Another incident that made headlines was that of a Japanese man, Mitsutaka Uchikoshi, who in 2006 fell asleep on a snowy mountain and was found by rescuers 23 days later with a core body temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit. He, too, was resuscitated and made a full recovery.

"There are many examples in the scientific literature of humans who appear frozen to death. They have no heartbeat and are clinically dead. But they can be reanimated. Similarly, the organisms in my lab can be put into a state of reversible suspended animation through oxygen deprivation and other means. They appear dead but are not. We wondered if what was happening with the organisms in my laboratory was also happening in people like the toddler and the Japanese mountain climber. Before they got cold did they somehow manage to decrease their oxygen consumption? Is that what protected them? Our work in nematodes and yeast suggests that this may be the case, and it may bring us a step closer to unders
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Contact: Kristen Lidke Woodward
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org
206-667-5095
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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