X-Message-Number: 12041
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 10:49:08 EDT
Subject: oocytes and cryonics perspectives

Jan Coetzee's post #12037 on thawed ovarian tissue is a remarkable reminder 
of both the positive and negative sides of cryonics prospects.

On the positive side, obviously, we have continued progress and new 
capabilities, fitting in very well with the long term optimism of most 

On the negative side, we have clear implication of the shakiness of short 
term optimism for perfected human brain or whole-body cryopreservation. 

First, we are reminded that even so small and relatively simple a system as 
an oocyte can be very hard to freeze without presently irreversible 
damage--and this strongly suggests (if more evidence were needed) that, 
somewhere in the vastly complex system of the brain, there may be essential 
subsystems that pose unusual problems in freezing or vitrification. 

Second, a researcher in the field thinks it may take 10 years to reach the 
capability of freezing ovarian tissue and using that to grow usable eggs. 
This problem is not one purely of cryobiology, but again the implication is 
clear--extreme caution is warranted concerning short term expectations in any 
leading edge research. 

Obviously, this does not mean we should not support cryonics research--quite 
the opposite; the harder the problem, the greater the need for intensified 
effort. But it should give pause to those who think--or convey the impression 
that they think--that research should be the be-all and end-all of our focus, 
as opposed to maintaining a major effort to recruit members and get people 
frozen now. 

The basic bet in cryonics is that future technology--perhaps as much as a 
century or more distant--is likely to reverse damage done by even crude 
freezing methods, as well as other deficits in the patient such as senility. 
Hard realism, in my opinion, demands long term optimism and short term 

Perfected cryopreservation may be a long way off; and uploading is doubtful, 
to say the least, even in principle. To maximize your chances and those of 
your family, make sure you have current cryostasis arrangements with one of 
the organizations.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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