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Reversible Cryopreservation Continues to be the Point of Focus to Expand Cryonics

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#1 reason

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Posted 14 June 2024 - 06:29 PM

The cryonics industry has remained non-profit and small for fifty years. Only a few hundred people have been cryopreserved on death, a tragedy that receives to little attention. A cryopreserved individual has, in principle, some unknown odds of a restored life at some point in a more technologically capable future. Higher odds than the present end of life alternatives, of course. This is provided that the fine structure of the brain is sufficiently preserved, and there remains debate over the degree to which this can be achieved using the technologies and protocols of today. Cryonics organizations and researchers lack the resources needed to conduct the sort of research and development needed to firmly answer questions of this nature, and to effectively react to the answers by developing new approaches.

Expanding the cryonics industry has proven to be challenging, ever stuck in the earliest stages of bootstrapping small gains in reach and capabilities to obtain small increases in funding. The best of the present options for expansion involves a focus on achieving robust, reliable forms of reversible cryopreservation, initially of small tissues and then organs, as there is a strong demand for this capability. Small tissue preservation is need to improve research tools, while the ability to store organs indefinitely would dramatically improve the logistics and reduce the costs of the organ donor industry. Demand leads to funding and commercial development, and as the first applications of reversible cryopreservation spread into the market, this is expected to in turn change the perception of the feasibility of whole body cryopreservation.

All of that said, it is good to see progress on this front in the form of a well funded company. Laura Deming has been leading an effort to work on reversible cryopreservation for a few years now, and it seems that it is is now time to announce the progress achieved to date. Research into reversible cryopreservation has been at the point of making the leap to for-profit development for a decade or so, and hopefully this will encourage other groups to move more rapidly towards commercial applications of their approaches. The wheels turn slowly, but at least they are turning.

Cradle emerges with $48m to build reversible cryonics technology

Cryonics startup Cradle was unveiled this week, boasting $48 million in funding and a mission to develop and prove the feasibility of whole-body reversible cryopreservation. Co-founded by venture capitalist and longevity pioneer Laura Deming and chief scientist Hunter C Davis, the company is built on the belief that pausing and restarting biological functions on demand is a solvable problem. "We're building reversible cryo technologies. Think the hibernation pods you see in space movies for long-term travel - we want to build that."

Cradle's approach to cryopreservation focuses on pausing molecular motion through cooling, thus preventing tissue damage that typically occurs during freezing. This concept leverages technologies like those used in in vitro fertilization (IVF), where embryos can be stored at cryogenic temperatures for extended periods. By adapting and scaling these principles, Cradle seeks to achieve cryopreservation of larger biological systems, including human organs and potentially whole bodies. The company's web site states "We are optimistic that human whole-body reversible cryopreservation is solvable."

Cradle has identified three areas of medicine that it believes its technology can potentially benefit. First, by cryopreserving neural tissue, the company aims to improve the accessibility of human brain tissue samples for research, potentially accelerating drug development and neuroscience research. Second, Cradle believes that cryopreservation could extend the viability window for donor organs, allowing more time for testing and matching, thereby reducing rejection rates and improving transplant outcomes. And finally, the company suggests its technology could allow patients with terminal illnesses to pause their biological time, giving them the opportunity to survive until effective treatments become available.

Cradle said its first major milestone, achieved in February 2024, involved recovering electrical activity in a cryopreserved and rewarmed slice of rodent neural tissue. The company claims this breakthrough serves as a foundational proof of concept, paving the way for its more ambitious goals. Next steps for Cradle include demonstrating preserved synaptic function and long-term potentiation in cryopreserved neural tissue, and eventually, achieving functional preservation of whole organs and even entire organisms.

View the full article at FightAging
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#2 Benjamin De Ornelas

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