Suspended Animation In Mice

April 22nd, 2005 | researchmaterial

Suspended animation has been deliberately induced in a species of mouse which does not naturally hibernate. It is the first time such a feat has been achieved, say the procedure’s pioneers.

If a similar response could be triggered in humans, there would be major healthcare benefits and the futuristic idea of putting astronauts into suspended animation on long-haul space flights could move a step closer to reality.

The mice were induced to fall into their deep sleep after being exposed to hydrogen sulphide – the gas which gives rotten eggs and stink bombs their characteristic foul odour. The animals later revived in ordinary air.

Mark Roth, head of the team which pioneered the procedure at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, US, explains that hydrogen sulphide all but shuts down the body’s usual demand for the oxygen it needs to keep cells ticking over. Usually, cells denied oxygen – after a heart attack or stroke, for example – die quickly. But hydrogen sulphide instead sends cells into a state of dormancy…


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