For the first time, mice have been placed into a type of hibernating suspended animation using a technique that could buy people time for better treatments.


The technique, developed by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, essentially induces hibernation in non-hibernating mammals, temporarily converting mice from warm-blooded to cold-blooded creatures.



“We think this may be a latent ability that all mammals have—potentially even humans—and we’re just harnessing it and turning it on and off, inducing a state of hibernation on demand,” says study lead investigator Mark Roth.



Because cellular activity slows to a crawl during hibernation, reducing an organism’s need for oxygen, the technique—if it works in humans—could be used in such situations as when patients are awaiting an organ transplant.



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