Japanese scientists have managed to clone a mouse that had been frozen without any cryoprotection for 16 years at minus 20 degrees Celsius. The researchers used the researchers used brain cell nuclei, and planted it into an egg of another living mouse, leading to the birth of the cloned mouse.
Although the objective of cryonics is not to be resuscitated as a genetic copy of oneself but to resume life as the same individual, this is encouraging news because it reinforces the idea that cold can be used to preserve life and identity relevant information. If such feats are possible without any cryoprotection, the prospects for vitrification to preserve the identity of a person are strengthened.
These new cloning techniques also hold promise for preservation of endangered species and, as some speculate and hope, may even allow the possibility of resurrecting extinct animals such as the woolly mammoth.
What is unfortunate is that these type of discoveries draw attention to the negative sentiments and ignorance many people have when it comes to cryonics. In one article critics were quoted as ‘saying how undesirable this type of research is’, that ‘it brings the world closer to the day when people try to clone long- dead relatives stored in cryopreservation clinics’ and ‘that it could even lead to a macabre new industry – in which people leave behind ‘relics’ of their bodies in freezers in the hope that they could one day be cloned’.
Although such arguments do not directly apply to contemporary cryonics, which involves the resuscitation of the same person and requires consent of the patient, such reactions are further evidence that most of the resistance against the idea of human cryopreservation may not be technical but psychological in nature.
We can only hope that when the resuscitation of cryonics patients becomes a reality we all live in a much more open-minded and tolerant society.