What if humans could hibernate?

suspended animation

Whether they are amphibians, mammals, birds, or something else, animals use metabolic depression to thrive in places where they otherwise have no business surviving. At northern latitudes, frozen ponds, streams, and lakes leave frogs with nothing to eat and nowhere to live during the winter. Similarly, small mammals have a difficult time finding food when most nuts and fruits are buried under inches of snow. For the hummingbird, daily torpor is the only way their life in the fast lane happens at all – they use so many calories just to stay alive that they must drastically reduce their metabolism to take a nap without starving to death.

Perhaps the most intriguing lines of investigation to date are the recent advances in the metabolic control field. Under the right conditions, researchers can artificially induce metabolically depressed states in animals that do not naturally go into torpor, like mice and rats. Some groups have gone a step further, and restored normal metabolic rates without any lingering effects on brain function.

Related article:  Second person cured of HIV? Stem cell transplant sends 'London patient' into long-term remission

The ultimate goal is to reverse engineer the sequence of events that induce a harmless, temporary coma [in humans]. If successful, this research has a range of fantastical applications, including long-term space flight to Mars and slowing the progression of deadly diseases until modern medicine catches up with a cure.

Read full, original post: Hitting the pause button on life

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