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One corner of the lab before most of the supplies and glass

ware were unpacked. Beneath the bench one can see the initial
start of an icebath / thumper combination for cryonics case-
work in Oregon.

A New Era of Cryonics Research
By Aschwin de Wolf

In December 2007 Chana de Wolf and I were invited to the Cryonics Institute to observe and document Dr. Yuri Pi Unpacking the
atomic absorption spectrophotometer that will be used in the future to do viability studies. to do viability studies.Puchugin’s hippo-
campal brain slice model to ensure that these skills would not be lost to cryonics researchers when Yuri would return to Russia. Our
visit turned out to be the beginning of a challenging but rewarding journey to secure funding and lab space in order to create a sus-
tainable cryonics research program.

In mid-2008 a generous CI member, Alan Mole, stepped forward to make $10,000 available for research into improved subzero
cooling techniques. This offer presented the first credible indication that a modest cryonics research program might become a real
possibility. In the following months we exchanged a series of emails with Cryonics Institute President Ben Best and Immortalist So-
ciety Director York Porter discussing the feasibility and details of such a research program.

Another encouraging sign was the prospect of Yuri’s research equipment becoming available for our research. This not only elimi-
nated a sizeable chunk of lab expenses, it also presented us with the opportunity to continue the hippocampal brain slice work with-
out the need to engage in a time and money consuming effort to determine and acquire the necessary equipment and supplies.

An effort was made to generate a research proposal and budget for approval at the September 2008 meeting of the Immortalist Soci-
ety. As can be expected, this required some careful thinking, and, to be fair, some degree of guesswork. That month I found myself
giving a brief presentation at the annual general meeting of the Cryonics Institute about our research plans. At that same event a
budget and research proposal was approved and Yuri’s equipment was prepared for shipping to Oregon. But one of the most exciting
announcements I was able to make was that CI Director Jordan Sparks resolved our foremost remaining challenge by securing us lab
space. This development transformed our research plans from “difficult” to “realistic.”

While the legal details were worked out in late 2008, the lab space was equipped with furniture and research supplies in anticipation
of the arrival of Yuri’s equipment. During December 2008 this equipment was installed, supplies were unpacked, cleaned, sorted and
shelved, and additional equipment and supplies were purchased, some of them with financial assistance from Jordan Sparks. After
doing some equipment testing and preliminary experiments in late December 2008, our first experiments commenced in January

2009.Three important considerations informed our research objectives: 1. Cryonics procedures and technologies will be investigated
under realistic conditions. 2. Research models themselves will be the object of experimentation to determine the most fruitful re-
search directions. 3. Basic research skills and methods must be solidified before engaging in complicated research designs. Let us
briefly look at these points.

One problematic aspect of contemporary cryonics is that the technologies and protocols that are used mostly reflect research that was
done under “ideal” conditions. Unfortunately, cryonics patients are not preserved under ideal circumstances, including those who
receive standby and stabilization. It should not be assumed that technologies that are superior in healthy organs will be superior in
cryonics patients. Cryonics researchers Mike Darwin and Jerry Leaf did some pioneering work in cryopreservation of ischemic
brains in the 1980s, but such efforts have not produced a comprehensive program of what we would like to call “Evidence Based

There are a number of research models available to investigate cryonics procedures. In our experience there is a risk to commit one-
self at an early stage to a single model. One scenario in particular we would like to avoid is committing ourselves to a very demand-
ing and expensive research model only to realize years later that the costs of the model do not outweigh the benefits, or worse, that
the expectations for the model were in error. To avoid such a scenario we have decided to put several models to the test in order to
identify the models that will give us the most benefits in terms of reliable research results and practical applications.

A related issue that is important to us is not to step up the complexity of the model without good evidence based reasons to do so.
This not only has advantages in terms of time, but also helps keep costs under control. Good cryonics research does not necessarily
need to be very expensive, and a combination of elegant models and creative thinking can produce useful results. Our research objec-
tives for this year are designed to work towards a series of low subzero temperature cooling experiments, but we have designed them
in such a manner that the journey itself will generate useful information pertaining to existing cryonics procedures.

At this point a specific example is helpful. When the Cryonics Institute made its formula and protocol for VM-1 available to the gen-
eral public, some concerns were raised about the fact that cryonics patients were exposed to a higher concentration (70%) of this
vitrification agent then was validated in Pichugin’s research. One observer feared that if such concentrations were introduced to
ischemic patients at non-ideal (warmer) temperatures, red blood cells could be acutely destroyed. This would not necessarily mean
that the toxicity of VM-1 would substantially harm brain tissue, but it would be a cause for great concern.

In January 2009 we used a sheep red blood cell model to investigate these concerns. We exposed red blood cells to VM-1 at different
temperature profiles and found that even at
room temperature no massive hemolysis was
observed. Although these observations consti-
tute just one step towards investigating VM-1
under realistic cryonics conditions, the fears
that initiated these experiments do not seem to
be warranted. In the future we intend to use
other models to investigate VM-1 under real-
istic conditions including, but not limited to,
perfusion of ischemic brains and hippocampal
brain slice work.

Since we started we have received tremendous
support from a number of people. In particular
we would like to thank Alan Mole, Ben Best,
York Porter, David Ettinger, Mark Plus, and
The Institute for Neural Cryobiology for their
contributions to making our research possible.

We are especially grateful to Jordan Sparks
and his people for their continuous support
and dedication.
Unpacking the atomic absorption spectrophotometer that will be used in
the future to do viability studies.


By Chana de


Above: “LAB RIGHT” Below: “FUME HOOD”


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