University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Cambridge University Longevity Society Talks > Stopping the Biological Clock – The Lazarus factor and Pulling Life back from the Edge.

Stopping the Biological Clock – The Lazarus factor and Pulling Life back from the Edge.

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Kieran Kejiou.

The concepts of ‘suspended animation’ and ‘life in the freezer’ are commonplace in fables and stories across history, from Sleeping Beauty and science fiction to space travel and Star Wars. But there is more than a grain of truth in some of them. In the real world, we currently employ some of these technologies in the clinic and laboratory, where living cells and tissues can be stored at cryogenic temperatures and re-animated on thawing – to the benefit of patients. In Nature life forms have evolved which can exist in extreme cold environments, from plants and insects which can actually freeze their body constituents, through to hibernating mammals which can drop their body temperature to close to 0o C for weeks at a time. We have begun to understand how these ultra-cold or frozen states can be achieved without damaging the living cells – at least in some situations. What has our current knowledge got to offer to those who wish to enter the world of cryonic suspension? Are there any clues in frozen life for ageing?

My talk will aim to give an understanding of what it takes for living cells to travel to the deep, deep cold – and get back; to clarify the different descriptions which appear in science articles, newspapers and the media; to show how Nature has evolved to deal with the challenges – (are we as clever as we think?); to give a concise description of how we really use the technology in every day practices in the 2010’s; to provide a few comments on the objective evidence about suspended animation and aging; and, to close, some observations about cryonic suspension of individuals in the UK, as recently reported in the media.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Longevity Society Talks series.

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