X-Message-Number: 6370
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 16:31:32 -0400
Subject: SCI. CRYONICS Pichugin research

Dr. Yuri Pichugin, as previously reported, has been doing cryonics-related
research with sheep heads and rabbit brains, funded by the Cryonics Institute
and the Immortalist Society. He and his colleagues in the Ukraine have
repeated CI sheep head work and verified lack of cracking after cooling to
liquid nitrogen
temperature, and have obtained spontaneous and evoked bioelectric activity
(BEA), coordinated in networks of neurons, in rabbit brain pieces rewarmed
from liquid nitrogen temperature. (Control specimens, without glycerol
solution perfusion, did not show BEA.)

Recently Dr. Pichugin visited the Institute of Cell Biophysics in Pushchino,
Russia, where there are the most advanced and skilled workers in brain
culture or brain 'incubation." Although only 30% of the best researvchers
remain--the rest having left the country--Dr. Pichugin conferred at length
with Pavel Pakhotin, Ph.D., who has published extensively in western journals

Dr. Pichugin wants to use relatively long term culture or incubation
techniques on brain slices of adult mammals to allow quantitative assessment
of viability after cryopreservation. Dr. Pakhotin's work has been mainly with
hypothermia of hibernating mammals, studying viability by extracellular
investigation of stability of structure-specific electical activity. 

(Dr. Pakhotin's methods allow survival for THREE DAYS of isolated brains of
adult hibernating mammals!  Clearly this has possible cryonics implications,
early-phase procedures--if the conditions and skills are not too demanding.)

Concerning Dr. Pichugin's work with rabbit brain pieces, Dr. Pakhotin
expressed high regard for it, but suggested an additional functional test
such as vital staining to evaluate the percentage of neurons with damaged
membranes, and to measure membrane potentials--work which would be possible,
but difficult, to do in the conditions in the Ukraine where Dr. Pichugin
works. Dr. Pichugin's achievement with the rabbit BEA is so ground-breaking
that major journals might be reluctant to accept his report without the
additional verification.

Dr. Pakhotin said that, for Dr. Pichugin's purposes, the neocortex is too
complicated; the hippocampus zones are more homogeneous and better
understood; normal functioning and viability of hippocampal neurons can be
determined quantitatively by measuring BEA.

Such work requires very pure reagents, water, gases, and high technical
equipment and skill. If Dr. Pichugin cannot work effectively in the Ukraine,
he would like to do the work in Pushchino.

The conference which Dr. Pichugin attended was on "Preservation of Genetic
Resources." Among those attending there was very little interest in cryonics,
and no willingness to put any burden whatsoever on the future for revival of
cryonics patients. Sounds familiar.

Meanwhile, Dr. Pichugin is doing more research with sheep brains. Among other
things, he is using hematoxylin and eosin for staining, in order better to
observe possible cracks and alterations in the neuropil of cryopreserved
brain tissue. These changes are hard to observe with Nissl staining, as Mike
Darwin also remarked. This work will be reported probably near the end of
June. No cracking was found, even with freeze-thaw rates of 60 deg C per hour
at 15% glycerol. But there are apparent alterations of the neuropil and white
matter, not yet understood.

Footnote: Dr. Pichugin visited the Fyodorov Society in Moscow. They gave him
a warm reception, but apparently have not done much to establish or advance
cryonics in Russia  since he and Ben Best visited three years ago. They seem
to believe anyone could be revived from DNA in their bones, and they seem to
subscribe to the information paradigm of the person (uploaders?) Dr.
Khalyavkin was also there, but did not want to talk much about his ideas on

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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