Skip to content

First human placed in suspended animation.

An all too familiar and frustrating sight for doctors and nurses the world over, patients who suffer a cardiac arrest under their care due to trauma involving car accidents, gunshot or stab wounds rarely survive, with CPR techniques presenting less than a 5% survival rate in the hospital Emergency Room (ER). To counteract these low survival rates, a suspended animation technique known as Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation (EPR) has been developed utilizing hypothermia in humans to buy vital time to stabilize the patient before irreversible organ damage occurs. However, human trials have been greatly complicated by the fact victims of trauma and cardiac arrest are incapacitated and therefore unable to personally consent. Now, a study from researchers at the University of Maryland places humans in suspended animation for the first time after gaining special exemption from the FDA for their trial. The team states by extending the time window for surgical management of vascular injury and other hemorrhagic pathology, EPR may allow patients to survive previously lethal bleeding. The interim results were presented by the lab at a symposium for the New York Academy of Sciences.

Recent studies in large animals from the group have demonstrated cooling to tympanic membrane temperature of 10°C during exsanguination cardiac arrest can allow up to 2 hours of circulatory arrest and repair of simulated injuries with normal neurologic recovery. However, to move onto human trials the FDA had to make the trial exempt from needing patient consent based on the criteria the participants’ injuries were likely to be fatal and there was no alternative treatment available. The team was also legally required to have discussions with the local community, place ads in newspapers describing the trial, and direct people to a website where they could legally opt-out of the trial should they have a critical accident requiring CPR in an ER setting. The current study investigates the use of EPR on patients who have lost approximately 50% of their blood and had their chest opened previously during ER treatment, which will allow injection of the cooling solution directly into the heart. 

The current study will involve 10 people who receive EPR and 10 people acting as controls who would have been eligible for the treatment had the EPR team been present at the time of admittance to the ER. EPR involves rapidly cooling the person to around 10 to 15°C by replacing all of their blood with ice-cold saline to induce a suspended animated state. The patient’s brain activity almost completely stops when they are disconnected from the cooling system and their body, which would otherwise be classified as dead, is moved to the operating theatre.

Results show the lab was successful in giving a surgical team extra time to fix a participant’s injuries before they were warmed up and their heart restarted. The team state now they are placing people in suspended animation, they are learning a lot as they move forward with the trial. They go on to add it may be possible to give people a cocktail of drugs to help minimize injuries and extend the time in which they are suspended, however, they stress they haven’t identified all the causes of reperfusion injuries yet.

The team surmises they have successfully placed a person in suspended animation. For the future, the researchers state they hope to be ready to announce the full results of the trial by the end of 2020.

Source: New Scientist

Get Healthinnovations delivered to your inbox:

Healthinnovations View All

Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.

Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.

Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.

Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.

Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.

An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.

One thought on “First human placed in suspended animation. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.