Scientists have produced ‘zombie’ dogs, reanimating the canines after hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans.
US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years.
Pittsburgh’s Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject’s veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.
The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.
But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.
Plans to test the technique on humans should be realised within a year, according to the Safar Centre.
However rather than sending people to sleep for years, then bringing them back to life to benefit from medical advances, the boffins would be happy to keep people in this state for just a few hours.
But even this should be enough to save lives such as battlefield casualties and victims of stabbings or gunshot wounds, who have suffered huge blood loss.
During the procedure blood is replaced with saline solution at a few degrees above zero.
The dogs’ body temperature drops to only 7 degrees C, compared with the usual 37 degrees C, inducing a state of hypothermia before death.
Although the animals are clinically dead, their tissues and organs are perfectly preserved.
Damaged blood vessels and tissues can then be repaired via surgery.
The dogs are brought back to life by returning the blood to their bodies, giving them 100 per cent oxygen and applying electric shocks to restart their hearts.
Tests show they are perfectly normal, with no brain damage.
“The results are stunning. I think in 10 years we will be able to prevent death in a certain segment of those using this technology,” said one US battlefield doctor.
[Nick Buchan, NEWS.com.au; http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,15739502-13762,00.html 27June05]