Is it possible to revive cryopreserved people?

Cryonics has not yet become mainstream, but many people are already familiar with the concept: roll a huge pile of cash, sign some paperwork, and then spend a few decades after his death in a giant tin can, quietly waiting for the emergence of technologies through which you will be able to resurrect. The service is not yet gained popularity, however, more than 300 dead Americans or dead, cold brains us, depending on what the procedure of cryopreservation had chosen during the life of the client (in whole or in brain), are currently stored in cooling chambers and waiting in the wings. Are all these people in my life I decided to try their luck – end up in a coffin all the money not taken away, and then there’s the probability (theoretical) in the future to be resurrected.

Only time will tell whether the correct bet in this game of death did these optimists, and will they one day return to life in the world when the singularity will finally take precedence over human existence. At the same time to discuss the probability of such a world with such technologies we are now nobody forbids. On this occasion, the portal Gizmodo asked for comments to leading experts in the field of neuroscience, bioethics, supporters of the technology of cryopreservation, and its opponents to try if not to understand then at least to imagine what awaits those who decide to use this service. Speaking from the position of the current technologies, then it will not work, however, those who engaged in this kind of services are sure that the society is not yet aware of all the future potential of cryonics.

Dr. Joao Pedro de Magalhaes.

A biologist from the University of Liverpool and coordinator of the project UK Cryonics and Cryopreservation Research Network.

“I would say that at its current level, the cryonics catastrophically damages the cells of the body. Even with optimal conditions (i.e., when the procedure of freezing is performed immediately after death), there is a number of very serious problems. In particular, a cryoprotective agents (substances with which scientists try to preserve the tissue when frozen) have a long lasting toxic effect on human tissue. Freezing large organs, e.g. brain is a very complex procedure, which increases the likelihood of uneven freezing of parts of the body. In not optimal conditions (i.e., when freezing is done after a considerable amount of time after death) probability of cell damage at this procedure increases even further as the cells begin to die. In particular, brain cells due to lack of oxygen and nutrients (ischemia) begin to die in just a few minutes after the heart stops. Thus, for a positive result will require innovative achievements in areas such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

In addition, cell renewal at the molecular level will require the use of nanotechnology, but so far it all seems just in the realities of science fiction. It is impossible to predict how far technology will advance progress in the coming decades or centuries. With this in mind I would say that the chances of the resurrection of cryopreserved people will be very low, but at the same time not impossible. For the sphere the impossibility of your resurrection will be a catastrophic result, because the technology holds the promise of your resurrection in the future.

Reversible and safe cryopreservation can become a revolutionary technology in the field of treatment of critical States. Patients with a fatal disease, not only adults but also children will be able to undergo the process of cryopreservation and expect the technologies that will allow us to cure these diseases. In a sense, we can get an alternative to conventional death, which of course will lead to a variety of philosophical, ethical and medical consequences.”

Mark Klein

Co-founder and CTO of X-Therma Inc., dealing with improvement of technologies for cold storage of stem cells, tissues and organs.

“There are two different methods of cryogenic freezing of people. In one proposed freezing just the brain or head. The idea is that in this case, there will be freezing smaller tissue volume, but you will manage (in theory) keep the identity of the person. In addition, this procedure is easier and less expensive. It should be added that the freezing of tissues and the preservation of links between cells it is difficult to call a simple procedure. In another method proposed freezing of the whole body, in the hope that one day, when they developed technologies for the treatment of your fatal disease, and safe defrosting, the doctors future you will again put on your feet.

In both cases, you will experience many difficulties. And perhaps the most important of these is how to freeze the tissue without damaging it? To prevent ice formation within tissues during cryopreservation is used, a mixture of different cryoprotective agents. At the same time for freezing of tissue requires the use of very low temperatures (about -196 degrees Celsius), temperatures of liquid nitrogen. Preventing the formation of ice at that temperature, especially in the case of frozen it’s a large amount of tissue – the task is daunting. The formation of ice is a substance like a knife through butter cuts cell connection, and damage cells themselves.

Another problem is the dessication: as soon as you put the above mentioned chemicals in the body or cell, they dehydrate (to prevent ice formation), which in turn also injures the cells, and cellular communication. Such damage to restore the fabric becomes virtually impossible, as cells do not have the ability to restore the connections after the freeze. In any case, scientists have observed extremely ineffective results.

Thus before us there is a chemical problem is the prevention of ice formation; biological – tissue damage and cell relations, as well as a physical problem – how to safely freeze a large body and how to safely thaw without damage.

I think a more practical potential on the background of cryopreservation technologies have savings bodies. Now the conservation of organs (for transplantation) is critical for medicine. In addition, it is much easier than freezing the whole body. Thanks to technology saving organs you can save a lot of lives now, not sometime in the future.”

Nick Bostrom

Oxford University Professor, Director of the Institute for the future of humanity and the advocate of transhumanism.

“From a technical point of view it all seems doable. Freeze (namely vitrification or plasticization) can be used now (for example, freezing embryos approx. ed.). However, the return to life may require assistance from artificial superintelligence – it will help to restore cellular damage which appears as a result of the freezing process”.

Dennis Kowalski

The President of the cryonics Institute.

“The correct scientific answer to the question would be – we don’t know because nobody knows what will happen in the future and what technologies will be in Vogue. However, that’s why some people signed an agreement on the preservation of their bodies in liquid nitrogen in the hope that future technology and medicine will be able to resolve this issue.

A hundred years ago before the advent of systems of artificial ventilation easy and defibrillation of the heart people are also thought to bring the dead back from the dead – impossible. New technologies open up new possibilities. Perhaps technology based on AI will be able to restore tissues damaged due to aging, freezing and even death. The law of accelerating returns by ray Kurzweil says that technology is evolving exponentially. This means that things that are considered impossible now will become reality in a few decades. Example — mobile phone in your pocket, allowing you to communicate with the world in real time and get access to virtually all the world’s knowledge at any time. In the past such a device would be called crystal ball and was regarded as a myth, fiction. It seems that cryonics is useless. But only time will put everything in its place”.

Cathal O’connell

Explorer 3D-bioprinting technology and bio-industries, laboratories BioFab3D St Vincent’s hospital, Melbourne, Australia.

“Everything points to the fact that it is impossible. Freezing is critical for living organisms the process. It stops the processes of functioning of the cells. This is especially detrimental effect on brain cells. These possibilities are now beyond our understanding. Unfortunately, all those who passed the procedure of cryopreservation with current technology, simply turned into icicles. These people will not be resurrected.

Cryonics in its current state is more like religion, not on science, but instead the divine essence, its followers put their faith in technological progress. They believe that future technology will be able to compensate for the terrible damage to their body caused by the procedures of the current methods of cryopreservation. There is no evidence that resurrect in this case the body will be possible. There is no doubt that the pioneers and advocates of cryonics believe in its effectiveness, and believe in it as a way to avoid death.

The real ability of some organisms (those tardigrades) can survive a complete freeze indicates that the cryonics in the future may have potential. However, the development of this sector will require massive investments: billions of dollars, thousands of scientists, decades of scientific research. With no clear developed plan of economic stimulus of all these investments, this area will not see. As my Professor: vision without funding is a hallucination.

Think to yourself: only to develop one new effective medicines can take decades and hundreds of millions of dollars. Cryonics – the sphere is much more complex than pharmaceuticals. By the time we will be able to solve it completely, mankind will likely already become immortal.”

Ralph Merkle

The Director of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation – the world leader in the field of cryonics.

“In a nutshell, many patients Alcor, most likely, will be brought back to life during this century.

You ask any man in 1940 — will people ever fly to the moon, you would say “no.” If you asked “why”, the answer would be: “because in space there is no air.” It’s really scientific, but completely wrong opinion was widespread among the prominent scientists of that time and even became the subject of scientific accusatory article in the New York Times concerning American scientist and one of the pioneers of modern rocketry, Robert Goddard, had the opposite opinion. Certain scientists of the early 20th century would have taken it back to see what launched 17 July 1969 the spacecraft “Apollo-11” in a week landed on the surface of the moon.

Discussion and preparation for a space mission to the moon lasted for decades before the actual event. Similarly, in the medical community for several decades, there has been talk about the possibility of a future “resurrection” of frozen patients that have not compatible with the life of the disease. And these assumptions are also based on scientific achievements and assessments of the potential of the technologies of the future.

Despite the fact that many remain skeptical regarding cryonics, the apparent absence of any technically sound arguments against this technology is becoming every time more and more obvious. While structures in the brain that encode our memories and personality is not damaged to such an extent that it will be impossible to restore to functional state, you can not be called dead. It is quite obvious that to match this information-theoretical definition of death is much more complicated than legal and medical, and therefore there is a belief that cryopreserved patients are not really dead.”

Michael Hendricks

Fellow of the Canadian research in the Department of neurobiology and behavior, associate Professor of the Department of biology, McGill University, wrote the article “Pseudoscience cryogenics” for the magazine MIT Technology Review.

“If we are talking about people whose brain, head or whole body have undergone cryogenic preservation after they were dead (and we are talking about current level of technology), in this case, they will never be able to return to life. They are dead and will remain dead forever. Will there ever be the ability to save a dead man (or a brain dead person) so that in the future he was resurrected? I sure didn’t. Will there ever be the ability to “pause life” with the help of cryonics at some time? Almost certainly. How long? It is impossible to answer. Will it be possible to “upload”, “move” someone’s consciousness into digital form? No. Consciousness is not just a thing, it is many complex processes occurring in the brain. In theory you can create a digital simulation of the human consciousness with the living or the dead the original, but it will not be. Man is a set of complex physical systems, and not a computer abstraction.

Will it be possible someday to create a simulation or a digital copy of a deceased person on the basis of the information about his brain? It is theoretically possible, but it’s so far from our current technology (as in biology and in computational fields), that anyone who wants to convince you of this, probably wants you just to make money. The belief that it is theoretically possible concepts when it will be technologically feasible in practice if we just really want it – it’s just an imaginary wish fulfillment.

Look at the world around them. The only useful thing we can still do for future generations is not to meddle in their Affairs. Let’s not do what would have come after us because of our selfishness and greed to do something else in the background of their own problems. We must not hold them responsible for storing and resurrection of our frozen bodies.”

Matthew Gibson

Professor of chemistry, Warwick medical school, whose team is exploring new cryoprotective agents for preservation of biological tissues.

“The technology of cryopreservation of cells has a great set of fundamentals and medical aspects. It’s like with food. We can’t leave food at room temperature and be confident that its molecules will always be fresh and ready to eat. Therefore for preservation of food (like cells) we use refrigerators.

The successful preservation of cells requires the use and then extract the cryoprotectants and compliance with precise control of the speed of freezing and thawing. In small volumes (in the case of cells) it may be simple, but to control it all becomes much more complicated with the increase of volume which occurs in the case of kryzanowski person. We must remember that man is composed of enormous number of cells connected to each other. All these relations must be maintained if we want to maintain the viability of the tissue, especially when talking about such complex organs like the brain.

Of course I would like to think that if you can easily freeze some tissue and a few cells, then freezing an entire human will be no problems. Unfortunately, this opinion is totally wrong. No one can predict what technologies will emerge in the future, but I don’t see how it would be possible. And the statement that nanotechnology “will allow everyone to get back together” — damaged parts of cells, brain and body – at the moment not consistent with scientific reality.”

Simon Woods

A specialist in bioethics, University of Newcastle.

“First, I believe that any cryopreserving a corpse, or a human brain, who died from an incurable disease has zero chance of success return to life, because the person is already dead. The return of these bodies to life will require a vast amount of scientific discoveries far beyond our current capabilities, and even simple understanding: the defrosting of complex tissues and organ systems to a functional condition, the use of regenerative technologies for repairing damaged tissues, healing deadly diseases, which killed the patient and in the end resurrection. Each of these technologies is beyond our current capabilities (and note that most definitions of death is considered an irreversible state).

This can be seen as an opportunity, is the cryopreservation of a living person that does not have the deadly disease in the last stage. In this case, cryopreservation can be used a method of euthanasia. But the latter, in turn, may face many ethical and legal issues and barriers, especially if the person was not terminally ill. In most jurisdictions, euthanasia may only be used for incurable disease in the last stage.

I suppose that this method can be used for exploration of deep space, when the person will “sleep” for a long time in a very long flight and “Wake” on arrival at the desired destination. Although, in this case, cryopreservation would not be the best choice, at least using current technology, because this method damages the cells and cell communication. To use this method, it will need significant development.

If you address the broader social issues, we would like to understand what the status of the person will occupy in the future the community after his defrosting after several hundred years of cryopreservation. Because he wakes up all alone. Without friends, living relatives, like survivors of a shipwreck on an unknown island”.

To discuss the views of specialists and to share their thoughts not only in comments but also in our Telegram chat.

0 Comments on “Is it possible to revive cryopreserved people?”

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