X-Message-Number: 7776
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 09:11:00 -0800 (PST)
From: Doug Skrecky <>
Subject: Canadian Cryonics News exerpts 

     The following articles appeared in the Volume 33 November 1996 issue
 of Canadian Cryonics News. Apologies is any of you that have seen these
 articles before. Does anyone know the answer to the [question] imbedded
 in the text?
                        A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
                          By Doug Skrecky

      For some time now I have been writing short articles about life
 extension and cryonics. I am middle aged and not getting any younger, yet
 these efforts seem to have had only a limited practical value. I had not
 added any new information to the database about either of these topics.
 What I have done is regurgitate what I have read in obscure medical
 journals and popularized them in various media. I have a little spare
 time currently to do more than this and have been thinking about what to
      Of these two topics the field of life extension is obviously much
 more important, since the primary determinant for whether either cryonics
 or any other post mortum preservation technique actually yields an
 "afterlife" will be how much time has elapsed for them to be improved.
 One is also reminded of the saying "One bird in hand is worth two in the
 bush". I will talk therefore mostly about life extension, but these
 comments apply in general to cryonics as well.
      The key test for whether a given intervention can slow aging is to
 see if it actually increases lifespan. Reducing disease incidence can
 achieve this independantly of aging, but any attempts to increase
 lifespan based on reducing disease incidence alone can add no more than
 about 15 years to ones lifespan. Slowing or reversing the aging process
 could in principal add centuries so there is a much larger payoff for
 focusing on aging itself rather than the diseases which typically attend
 it. To restate this in more detail we might be able, by focusing on means
 to lower cancer and cardiovascular disease risks increase average
 lifespan from 75 to as much as 90 years, but the maximum lifespan will
 remain at about 120. By focusing on aging the sky is the limit, with
 average lifespans in excess of 120 years being possible for us and even
 more for our children.
      It is not practical to test agents for anti-aging effects on either
 humans or any other long lived species because of the great expense and
 length of time required to yield meaningful results. This would be
 tantamount to gambling that either of supplements A, B or C will help one
 to live longer and then taking them all and hoping for the best. Does
 this sound familiar? Unfortunately this is what most of us having been
 doing until very recently.
      Useful data can be obtained by testing supplements and other
 interventions on short lived animal species. We can become increasingly
 confident these may work in humans as well, when a variety of such
 animals species have been tested with uniformly positive results. This
 has been the route taken with caloric restriction with adequate nutrition
 (CRAN), which has been proved to slow aging and in some cases
 dramatically extend the lives of the animals so treated throughout their
 lifespan from infancy. Only a few dedicated life extensionists are
 currently on a CRAN program, since this seems to require a considerable
 amount of willpower and self-denial. It also needs to be admitted that
 the benefits for CRAN initiated in adulthood are typically rather more
 modest than those obtained with initiation in infancy.
      The particular strain of animal species that is tested should not be
 an abnormally disease prone one since then a large increase in both
 average and even maximum lifespan could be obtained by merely reducing
 disease susceptiblity. This would not imply that similar benefits (or any
 benefits at all) would accrue to a normal strain of the same species,
 much less us. So hypertension prone SHR mice are not an option.
      If an aging intervention works to retard aging only to a limited
 degree then the experiment will have to last the complete lifespan of the
 tested animal. In human terms an increase in average lifespan from 75 to
 90 might be seen, but only when a similar increase in maximum lifespan
 from 120 to 135 is obtained will we know that we are onto something
 interesting. Highly effective anti-aging interventions will not need to
 be run till the end of the animal lifespan since their average lifespan
 would exceed species maximum lifespan in any case.
      In order to generate more data on aging interventions there are two
 possibilities. (A) Pay a PhD to test short lived animals with a given
 intervention. (B) Do it oneself. Possibility (A) is ruled out for all
 except those with exceptionally deep pockets such as the Life Extension
 Foundation. Even here the pockets are not limitless and to date only a
 handful of lifespan tests have been conducted. This leaves us with (B).
      The short lived animals that have been used to date have usually
 either been rats or mice with lifespans of about three years. The
 rationale for using these is that they are easily available, short lived
 and are somewhat similar to humans biochemically, so hopefully the aging
 process may be similarly modifiable in both. The main problem with
 starting out with rats or mice is that they are still relatively long
 lived animals and lifespan experiments with them will be expensive and
 time consuming, even if one conducts the experiments oneself as a long
 term hobby. However arguments which prefer mice to men for
 experimentation apply to mice as well as men. There do exist animal
 species with much shorter lifespans than mice. We want results and we
 want them fast and with little trouble. If some intervention works very
 well in a really short lived animal, an experiment to verify this in mice
 can be conducted later on. Which would be the best very short lived
 species to deal with?.
      No mammals fit the bill. The fruit fly drosophilia melanogaster is a
 very short lived animal (70 days average) that has probably seem more
 work done on it than all of the other very short lived animals put
 together. Some others that have seen some work are nematodes, rotifiers
 and various water fleas. In order to be easy to work with I limit species
 to only those that are easily visible to the naked eye. This eliminates
 nematodes and rotifiers. Water fleas have the advantage of not flying
 away, but the massive research (and availability of instant fly food from
 Carolina Biologicals) argued rather convincingly for fruit flies. I am
 accumulating the apparatus needed to commence experimentation with fruit
 flies now and will regularly issue updates on my progress and results.
      Some dramatic increases in lifespan have been obtained recently for
 nematodes (fivefold increase) and for mice (doubled lifespan) using
 genetic techniques. However I will be restricting my investigating to
 nontoxic supplements that are available for human consumption initially.
 In order to make maximum use of my time I plan on using only small
 numbers of flies to test each supplement so that many of these can be
 tested as quickly as possible. First consideration will be supplements
 that have never been tested on any animal species for lifespan prolonging
 effects. Various theories of aging will also be used to help select
 supplements so that these theories can be tested as well. One example is
 biotin. The insulin sensitizing drug chromium picolinate has greatly
 extended lifespan of a single species of rodent. Biotin is also an
 insulin sensitizer, so it will be tested to yield data on whether insulin
 secretion is a reliable aging accelerating factor.
      I have talked mostly about life extension here, but would like to
 end with a short monologue on cryonics. As with life extension it would
 be far more cost effective to do the experiments oneself rather than pay
 a PhD to do them. Highly involved experiments using complex equipment are
 not an option for cryonics experimentation for the same reasons only very
 short lived animal species can be considered for life extension
 experiments: time and money. With no perfusion equipment only very small
 animal species can be considered for possible revival after freezing and
 thawing, since only these could absorb enough cryoprotectant through the
 skin to make a difference. Small aquatic animals should get first
 preference since they will not drown in water/cryoprotectant mixtures.
 Water fleas might be a appropriate species to test. The cryoprotectant
 used would have to be highly permeable since only the skin is being used
 for uptake. This rules out sugars for example. The cryoprotectants used
 or at least their mixtures should not have been tested before to avoid
 duplication of effort. Glycerol and DMSO can be omitted for this reason.
 An example of a highly permeable cryoprotectant that has not been tested
 before (to my knowledge) is triethylene glycol diacetate. This has a
 membrane permeability rate that is 44 times as fast as glycerol. If
 anyone is interested in conducting cryonics research please let me know.
      I can be reached at 

                     BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
                        By Doug Skrecky
      Some attempts to preserve the body of the deceased are somewhat
 tardy. However there is at least some hope that even delayed action in
 this regard may be able to save some memories. Cultures derived from glia
 and astrocyte cells removed from the brains of human corpses have
 demonstrated only a slight decrease in the rate of successful culturing
 when the postmortum interval was greater than 20 hours.
  "Cell Proliferation and the Aging Brain" Age 3: 43-47 1980

                      By Doug Skrecky

     Adonitol (also called ribitol) is a sugar alcohol with a molecular
 weight of 152 and a melting point of 102 C. Glycerol by comparison has a
 molecular weight of 92 and a melting point of 17.8 C. Although glycerol
 has been much used (and perhaps abused) in cryobiology adonitol has been
 largely ignored. This may have been a mistake.
     Rat embryos cryopreserved in 0.3 M glycerol or 0.3 M adonitol have
 survival rates of 16% and 67% respectively. At 1.0 M glycerol yields a
 52% survival, while adonitol yields 88%. *1 However when human sperm is
 cryopreserved according to procedures optimized for glycerol, mobility
 recovery was higher in glycerol than for adonitol. *2 When polyols are
 added to skim milk survival of freeze dried bacteria varied as follows:
                    0.75 M       1.0 M         10%
    Organism       Adonitol    Glycerol   Skim milk only
  S. lactis T164     100%        53%           10%
  S. lactis T215      81         26             9
  S. cremoris T162    86         40            12
  S. cremoris T55     96         38            10
  S. faecium T175    100          5            13
  S. thermophilus     98         43            13
  L. cremoris         98.3       12             4.6
  L. plantarum       100         35            12
  L. casei            98.2       32             9
  L. murinus          88         41             8
  L. fermentum        56         40             1.5
  L. leichmanii       87         90            <1
  L. bulgaricus       53          2.5           3.6
  L. helveticus       49         20             1.4

  average:            85         34             7.7
      Functional recovery of tissue either cryopreserved or freeze-dried
 may be higher if adonitol is substituted for glycerol. Adonitol would
 also be safer than glycerol for long-term storage due to its higher glass
 transition temperature.

  *1 "Cryoprotective Effect of Polyols on Rat Embryos During Two-Step
 Freezing" Cryobiology Vol.29 332-341 1992
  *2 "Evidence that Membrane Stress Contributes More Than Lipid
 Peroxidation to Sublethal Cryodamage in Cryopreserved Human Sperm:
 Glycerol and Other Polyols as Sole Cryoprotectant" Journal of Andrology
 Vol.14 No.3 199-209 1993
  *3 "Protective Effect of Adonitol on Lactic Acid Bacteria Subjected to
 Freeze-Drying" Applied and Environmental Microbiology Vol.45 No.1 302-304

                         By Doug Skrecky
    Glycerol is metabolized to formaldehyde by living tissue. In isolated
 rat liver microsomes BHT, DMSO, mannitol, SOD ,trolox and vitamin E had
 no effect on glycerol catalyzed formaldehyde production. However at a
 dosage of 0.01 mM the iron chelators desferrioxamine, DTPA and EDTA as
 well as the antioxident propyl gallate inhibited formaldehyde production
 by 95%, 88% 86% and 91% respectively. Since the lipid soluable propyl
 gallate alone has the ability to readily penetrate cell membranes it is
 the clear first choice to protect against glycerol toxicity. It appears
 that the addition of propyl gallate to all glycerol soltuions currently
 used by cryobiologists and cryonics companies is mandates.

 Reference: "Role of Iron, Hydrogen Peroxide and Reactive Oxygen Species
 in Microsomal Oxidation of Glycerol to Formaldehyde" Archives of
 Biochemistry and Biophysics Vol.285 No.1 83-89 February 15,1991
 [Question: Has any cryonics company started adding 0.01 mM propyl gallate
 to their cryopreservation mix?]

                         By Doug Skrecky
     A new solid xerogel vaccuum insulation is in development at Dow
 Chemical Company. Xerogels are microcellular solids prepared by
 evaporation of solvents from a solvent/polymer gel. They resemble
 styrofoam, but have a much finer cell structure, which is interconnected
 or "open" to the external environment. They are potentially less
 expensive than similar so-called aerogels since the later requires more
 expensive supercritical evaporation at carefully controlled temperatures
 and pressures. Xerogels are somewhat denser than aerogels since increased
 surface tension causes some shrinkage during drying. Under a soft vaccuum
 xerogels have a higher conductivity than silica vaccuum powder
 insulation, but below 1.5 torr have a slightly lower conductivity.
     Unlike aerogels, xerogels are a potential replacement for vaccuum
 powders in high performance insulation systems since the construction
 advantages of their monolithic form are not offset by a higher price.
 This might make storage containers for cryonics patients (or cryostats)
 less expensive to build.

  Reference: "Microcellular Polyurea Xerogels for Use in Vacuum Panels"
  Journal of Cellular Plastics Vol.32 172-190 March 1996
  For more information contact:

  Rick L. Tabor
  The Dow Chemical Company
  Polyurethanes Products Research Laboratory
  Building B-1608
  Freeport, TX 77541

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