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Suspended Animation with Rotton Egg Gas!?!?
October 16, 2009 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Suspended Animation with Rotton Egg Gas!?!? - It may smell like rotten eggs, but it turns out H2S may be able to slow down the chain of chemical degradation that causes death in cells that are deprived of oxygen. Biologist Mark Roth can supposedly take a lab rat, stop its heart with a dose of hydrogen sulfide, and bring it back to life an hour later just by turning off the gas. Interesting...
posted by d4v1dr0b3r7s0n (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Next: Frequent Farters Live Longer.
...and you were right the third time; it's rotten.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:27 PM on October 16, 2009


A friend of mine accidentally created an impressive volume of H2S in a chemistry class back when we were in high school. That floor was evacuated and students missed out on a fair amount of class time, which helped make up for the momentary threat of a nauseating death.
posted by Jpfed at 3:28 PM on October 16, 2009


Your ellipses cause me to think you're saying all this in an ominous voice, rubbing your palms together. Interesting...
posted by thisperon at 3:40 PM on October 16, 2009


Rotten egg gas: You won't live forever, it just feels like it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:44 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ted Williams' Head is going to be pissed!
posted by geekyguy at 4:11 PM on October 16, 2009


H2S doesn't always smell like rotten eggs. In sufficiently high concentrations it instantly burns out your sense of smell so that you're unaware that you're breathing it at all. Then, if you don't quickly remove yourself from the cloud of gas you're not aware you're in because you can't smell it, it kills you.

Really, if you want to see what really paranoid industrial safety measures look like, visit a place that handles H2S in bulk.
posted by localroger at 4:25 PM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Actually, this sort of thing would be invaluable to Alcor and like-minded individuals if it results in a procedure viable for the larger mammals. Assuming (and it's a big if) we could get all of the legalities out of the way, faced with something like late-stage pancreatic cancer, you could be taken down to the bare minimum level of metabolic turnover without killing off various important cells, then frozen in stages.

It would also revolutionize medical aid for first responders dealing with a seriously traumatized human form, whether on the battlefield or looking at someone who has just had a heart attack. I can only dream of the surgical applications.

If anything, Ted Williams' Head would be pissed we didn't get this sooner.
posted by adipocere at 4:27 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


you could be taken down to the bare minimum level of metabolic turnover without killing off various important cells, then frozen in stages.
I think they'll need some alternative to freezing. Your body's cells contain water, so almost all of them* will expand (explode, really) when frozen. I wonder if 33' would be cold enough?

* IIRC I think you can theoretically avoid cellular expansion from freezing if you freeze the cells quickly enough, but I don't think that's practical for anything but the thinnest layers of tissue.

That, and freezer burn.
posted by Davenhill at 4:40 PM on October 16, 2009


Davenhill, they are way, way ahead of you. Look up vitrification and go from there.
posted by adipocere at 4:41 PM on October 16, 2009


✓ABC
posted by cellphone at 4:44 PM on October 16, 2009


Mark Roth was profiled in Esquire Magazine about a year ago. His lab's website at the FHCRC. His COS profile with publications list. It's also worth noting that he has received a McArthur genius grant for his work in this area. And, previously on metafilter.
posted by Craig at 4:52 PM on October 16, 2009


Wikipedia says that this was first demonstrated in mice in 2005. But it drastically reduces metabolism. It doesn't outright stop it.

Attempts to replicate the experiment using pigs were failures, however.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:12 PM on October 16, 2009


This post needs interrobangs.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:40 PM on October 16, 2009


/me purchases ticket for Alpha Centauri
posted by DU at 5:41 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


DU: "/me purchases ticket for Alpha Centauri"

I would, but the mindworms squick me out.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:51 PM on October 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


This is like that Stephen King story where the kid holds his nose during the take-off procedure and then at the end he's all white-haired and gibbering: "Smellier than you think, Daddy! Smellier than you think!" Then he claws his own nostrils out.
posted by No-sword at 6:06 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"What do you have in the bag?"
"Bunch of not quite dead rats."
posted by adipocere at 6:08 PM on October 16, 2009


Both hydrogen sulfide and cyanide kill in sufficiently high doses, and both work by blocking respiration via the inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase. But only H2S seems to be capable of producing this hibernation effect. So what's the difference? I'm guessing it has to do with affinity and/or kinetics. H2S binds much weaker to cytochrome C. Presumably, this means the effect is not sudden and severe, but gradual and incomplete. This allows some degree of respiration to continue while body temperature falls. This drop in body temperature is almost certainly essential to the effect, and may be why they're having trouble getting this work in larger animals (which lose heat more slowly). Hypothermia significantly decreases the ability of ions to cross the cell membrane, which delays the ischemic cascade that damages cells after hypoxia. I don't see this leading to methods of long-term hibernation. But I'm guessing that sulfide compounds may eventually be used in conjunction with therapeutically-induced hypothermia for major surgeries and the emergency treatment of ischemia.
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:10 PM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


no-sword (and why don't you have one, hm?) I'm calling you out for stealing the joke I was going to make.
posted by maxwelton at 6:12 PM on October 16, 2009


That's what you get for relaxing in a bag of rotten egg gas too long before posting.
posted by No-sword at 6:13 PM on October 16, 2009


When I was treeplanting in Manitoba we had one camp for a few weeks where the only water source was a hand pump (Little House/Prairie style) that produced the most foully rotten-egg smelling water. Some people tried mixing in juice crystals but it didn't help much - you just got rotten-egg smelling juice. But I swear, that for all that you gagged while drinking it, the water really did seem to have unusually good energising and rejuvenating properties.
posted by Flashman at 6:49 PM on October 16, 2009


I also did work in Manitoba that involved H2S gas. But we had SCUBA gear and electronic sniffers to ward off the evil suffocating gas that was a byproduct of crude oil production.

Si, Flashman, where ever that was that you planted trees, buy the mineral + surface rights to that farm.

Also, I'm very skeptic of the application of this towards human flights to Alpha Centauri.
posted by sleslie at 7:44 PM on October 16, 2009


One of my friends worked on oil and natural gas rigs, and he quit after watching some folks die from hydrogen sulfide bradicardia. Apparently you just get sleepy and fall down, then die.

I'd say there may be a little research in order before FDA approval.
posted by poe at 7:49 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pff. I do this to my wife with the covers all the time.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:19 PM on October 16, 2009


The dreaded Dutch Oven!
posted by Nyarlathotep at 8:34 PM on October 16, 2009


Well, I know whenever I smell hydrogen sulfide gas in an elevator, time certainly seems to slow way down.
posted by darkstar at 9:10 PM on October 16, 2009


Pff. I do this to my wife with the covers all the time.

You suffocate her, and then bring her back to life?
posted by cafe_prole at 10:04 AM on October 17, 2009


adipocere: "It would also revolutionize medical aid for first responders dealing with a seriously traumatized human form, whether on the battlefield or looking at someone who has just had a heart attack. I can only dream of the surgical applications."

This is exactly why DARPA is bankrolling the research. They have expended a lot of effort over the years trying to figure out ways to keep seriously wounded people from dying en route to a field hospital. A few years ago I remember reading about a spray-on product that would instantly cause wounds to clot. (It was experimental and I don't think made it into use; my suspicion is because it wouldn't help internal bleeding.) The military is, and has been traditionally, one of the big drivers of research into prehospital trauma treatment.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:56 AM on October 17, 2009


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