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Will it soon be possible to freeze humans and then thaw them again?

Will it soon be possible to freeze humans and then thaw them again?

Sleeping for 57 years in the movie alien it was possible. This piece of movie magic can't yet be replicated, but a lot of research is being done into it. Hoogerforst does this, for example, with ice-binding proteins, also called antifreeze. “These proteins are found in animals and plants that can survive in the cold,” explains the researcher at TU Eindhoven.

Fish and frogs

The formation of ice can damage cells, Hoogerforst says. For this reason, it is not yet possible to freeze humans, but animals already do it. For example, there are fish and frogs that allow themselves to be frozen, only to come back to life after a few months. “We are studying how proteins can prevent this by affecting shape and size.”


“The most important thing is to protect the cells during freezing. Some cells can be frozen reasonably well, but others cannot, and all cells are needed in their original location,” Hoogervorst continues. “Current discoveries focus on rapidly heating and cooling small organs, such as mouse kidneys, using special techniques. However, this does not yet apply to larger human organs or to whole people.”

“How cold is it?”

Hoogerforst and TU Eindhoven are trying to find out how proteins can affect the shape of ice crystals and what properties these proteins have. “The question is how cold it would have to be for a 75-year freeze,” Hoogerforst says. “The goal is to discover those properties.” And when can we expect the first frozen human? “This is still unknown at the moment and is probably science fiction.”

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