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Frozen into the future?

Fifty years ago the psychology professor James Bedford became the first person to be frozen after death, in the hope of future scientific progress which might find a cure to his late stage cancer. Today this is still the primary motivation for many followers of cryonic body preservation – more than 250 men and women have invested in a future chance.

In course of the themed program Zeitreise Wissenschaft (time travel science) on radio Ö1 the show Dimensionen (dimensions) addresses the topic of cryonic body preservation. Prof. Heinz Redl was part of it.

While the idea of cryo-conserving the whole human organism (in some concepts also merely the head with the brain as center of what defines a person) has become an essential part of the science fiction genre, today’s experts are skeptical. The problem: the body is too big and too diverse. Although since Bedford, who was merely injected with DMSO before being frozen, the knowledge and methods on the topic have seen great progression there are still toxic substances in use and freezing whole organs leads to irreparable cryo-fractions. How the thawing process is going to take place is still unspecified.

Heinz Redl talks about working applications for cryo-conservation, as commonly used for stem cells and cell mixtures from body fat. The cells can then be used for example to repopulate decellularized tissue. Moreover he describes the possibility of reprogramming adult cells. The dream of cryonics to escape aging by being frozen as a whole might be replaced by methods of cellular rejuvenation.

With kind permission of radio Ö1 the show is provided here.