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Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Alcor Position Statement on Brain Preservation Foundation Prize

From Alcor President, Max More
February 12, 2016

In December 2015, 21st Century Medicine, Inc. published peer-reviewed results of a new cryobiological and neurobiological technique, aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation (ASC) that provides strong proof that brains can be preserved well enough at cryogenic temperatures for neural connectivity (the connectome) to be completely visualized. And this week the Brain Preservation Foundation (BPF), after independent evaluation by neuroscientists Dr. Sebastian Seung, Professor at Princeton, and Dr. Ken Hayworth, President of the BPF, awarded The Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize to 21st Century Medicine based on these results.

The BPF press release says: “it is the first demonstration that near-perfect, long-term structural preservation of an intact mammalian brain is achievable, thus directly answering what has been a main scientific criticism against cryonics.”

Many people are wondering whether Alcor plans to adopt the “Aldehyde-Stabilized Cryopreservation” (ASC) protocol used to win the prize and what the win means for cryonics in practice. Alcor’s position is as follows:

We are pleased that vitrification, the same basic approach that Alcor Life Extension Foundation has utilized since 2001, is finally being recognized by the scientific mainstream as able to eliminate ice damage in the brain. Alcor first published results showing this in 2004. The technology and solutions that Alcor uses for vitrification (a technology from mainstream organ banking research) were actually developed by the same company that developed ASC and has now won the Brain Preservation Prize.

ASC under the name “fixation and vitrification” was first proposed for cryonics use in 1986. ASC enables excellent visualization of cellular structure – which was the objective that had to be met to win the prize – and shows that brains can be preserved well enough at low temperature for neural connectivity to be shown to be preserved. Current brain vitrification methods without fixation lead to dehydration. Dehydration has effects on tissue contrast that make it difficult to see whether the connectome is preserved or not with electron microscopy. That does not mean that dehydration is especially damaging, nor that fixation with toxic aldehyde does less damage. In fact, the M22 vitrification solution used in current brain vitrification technology is believed to be relatively gentle to molecules because it preserves cell viability in other contexts, while still giving structural preservation that is impressive when it is possible to see it. For example, note the synapses visible in the images at the bottom of this page.

While ASC produces clearer images than current methods of vitrification without fixation, it does so at the expense of being toxic to the biological machinery of life by wreaking havoc on a molecular scale. Chemical fixation results in chemical changes (the same as embalming) that are extreme and difficult to evaluate in the absence of at least residual viability. Certainly, fixation is likely to be much harder to reverse so as to restore biological viability as compared to vitrification without fixation. Fixation is also known to increase freezing damage if cryoprotectant penetration is inadequate, further adding to the risk of using fixation under non-ideal conditions that are common in cryonics. Another reason for lack of interest in pursuing this approach is that it is a research dead end on the road to developing reversible tissue preservation in the nearer future.

Alcor looks forward to continued research in ASC and continued improvement in conventional vitrification technology to reduce cryoprotectant toxicity and tissue dehydration. We are especially interested in utilizing blood-brain barrier opening technology such as was used to win the prize (but which pre-dated work on ASC).

It may remain unclear to many whether this research result shows whether ASC or current vitrification without pre-fixation is more likely to preserve cell structures and molecular structures necessary for memory and personal identity. What we can note is that Robert McIntyre, the lead researcher on ASC at 21st Century Medicine, made a point during his presentation at the Alcor 2015 Conference of recommending against adoption of ASC in cryonics at this time.

For cryonics under ideal conditions, the damage that still requires future repair is now more subtle than freezing damage. That damage is believed to be chiefly cryoprotectant toxicity and associated tissue dehydration. It’s time for cryonics debate to move past ill-informed beliefs of “cells bursting.”

This is a groundbreaking result that further strengthens the already strong case that medical biostasis now clearly warrants mainstream scientific discussion, evaluation, and focus.

For a more detailed statement, and one that Alcor endorses, see:
http://www.evidencebasedcryonics.org/media/MBPP.pdf

A-1624, James Baglivo, Patient 140

James Baglivo, winner of the Omni cryonics essay contest, becomes Alcor’s 140th patient.

James Baglivo, A-1624, was pronounced legally dead by today’s standards on August 25, 2015 at the age of 44, in New Jersey, USA. Baglivo, a neurocryopreservation member, became Alcor’s 140th patient.

Back in the early 1990s, Charles Platt birthed an idea and saw it through to completion: An “Immortality Prize” hosted by Omni Magazine, the winner of which would receive a cryopreservation free of charge. Some of us quite fondly remember Omni as a science and science fiction magazine published in print form from 1978 to 1995, founded by Kathy Keeton and her collaborator and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse magazine. Even when it was shut down by Guccione in early 1996 following the death of Keeton, the magazine’s reported print run was still over 700,000 copies per month. Offering a free cryopreservation as the prize for winning an essay contest apparently generated an unprecedented degree of exposure for cryonics and for Alcor.

James Baglivo was the winner of the Omni Magazine Immortality Prize. It took Mr Baglivo some time to complete his arrangements, his membership being finalized on January 18, 1996. His winning of the Prize turned out to be very fortunate for him. Mr Baglivo was involved in a major auto accident leading to hospitalization in 1991 and he carried the burden of a family history of diabetes and heart disease. At the time of the contest, he was only 22 years old. His essay won him a $120,00 life insurance policy that Alcor purchased on his behalf to pay the costs of cryopreservation when the time came. He also remained a member even though he had never responded to any notices or requests or communications of any kind in ten years. That lack of communication made responding effectively and speedily considerably more difficult.

On August 25, 2015, Alcor received an emergency notification from a nurse with an organ procurement company in New Jersey when she noticed that her deceased patient was wearing an Alcor medical alert bracelet. She told us he had died from sudden cardiac arrest about three hours prior earlier. We later learned that he had suffered three cardiac arrests: The first around 5:00 pm (Arizona time), the second around 10:00 pm in a New Jersey hospital where he was placed on a ventilator, and the third at 2:55 am immediately after removal from ventilator, at which point he was pronounced. Alcor was notified at 5:03 am through our emergency alert service.

Mr Baglivo’s mother also called and said that, because of her son’s young age of 44, the Medical Examiner was planning on performing an autopsy the next morning. Alcor immediately reached out to the ME’s office and strongly urged them to not abrogate this individual’s civil rights and instead consider waiving their authority to perform a destructive autopsy, in light of his written health directives with respect to disposition of his own remains.

After reviewing the documents and medical history that Alcor sent, coupled with the diagnostic imaging and blood draws that were obtained at the hospital, the ME’s office decided to forego the procedure and release the patient to Alcor. A local mortuary was found that would remove the patient from the morgue’s cooler, pack it in ice and allow us to use their prep room when we arrived later that same night.

Although initial success had been achieved in stopping the invasive autopsy, time was the driving factor in the decision-making process. There was insufficient time to retrieve the physical entirety of Baglivo and bring him to Alcor for a whole body cryoprotection. As it was, our options were limited to a straight freeze (with attendant massive damage from ice crystals) or a field neuro cryoprotection and transport on dry ice. I (Max More) decided to authorize a field cryoprotection. This enables us to cryoprotect the brain with minimal delay even when an operating room is not available.

The move from whole-body with no cryoprotection (and a long delay) to neurocryopreservation with field cryoprotection (and a much faster timeline) also enabled us to pay for an air ambulance. This was arranged by Aaron Drake, Alcor’s Medical Response Director, who was accompanied by Steve Graber, Alcor’s Technical and Readiness Coordinator, on the trip to Philadelphia with the surgical and perfusion supplies. Through the night, Drake performed the surgery and cannulation while Graber ran the portable pump-powered perfusion equipment and reached target concentration through a 15 step cryoprotection ramp. The team then used dry ice to provide rapid cooling in Alcor’s specially designed Neuro Shipper container.

The cooling continued during transportation the team returned with the same flight crew who were returning to Phoenix. More aggressive cooling commenced upon arrival at Alcor. A-1624 became Alcor’s 140th patient on August 25th, 2015.

A full case report will follow.

Resuscitation and Reintegration of Cryonics Patients Symposium in Portland Oregon

On Sunday May 12, 2013, the Institute for Evidence Based Cryonics will organize a symposium about the resuscitation and reintegration of cryonics patients in Portland, Oregon. This is the first public meeting exclusively concerned with the repair, resuscitation, and reintegration of cryonics patients. Alcor President Max More will be one of the speakers at the event.

The symposium is being held at The Cleaners at Ace Hotel (The Cleaners at Ace Hotel
403 SW 10TH AVE, 97205) in downtown Portland, Oregon from 10:00 am to 07:00 pm.

Admission is free. Registration for the event is possible at the event Facebook page.

On Saturday evening, the day prior to the symposium, Aubrey de Grey and Max More will be speaking about rejuvenation biotechnologies and cryonics at the Paragon Restaurant & Bar in Portland, Oregon.

Admission for this event is free and registration for this event is possible on the event Facebook page, too.

The current line-up of speakers is as follows (the exact schedule will be announced soon):
BEN BEST – EFFECTS OF TEMPERATURE ON PRESERVATION AND RESTORATION OF CRYONICS PATIENTS

Macromolecular temperature is a quantification of atomic-level molecular motion. The ability to maintain and reconstruct cryonics patients could be critically dependent on low temperature atomic/molecular motion and on the ability to operate nanomachines at cryogenic temperatures. Possible problems and solutions will be discussed.

Bio: Ben Best was President of the Cryonics Society of Canada for about a decade, after which he was President of the Cryonics Institute for nearly a decade. He is currently Director of Research Oversight for the Life Extension Foundation. The cryonics section of his website is one of the best sources of information about the science behind cryonics available on the internet ( www.benbest.com/cryonics/cryonics.html )

CHANA DE WOLF – RECONSTRUCTIVE CONNECTOMICS

Complete preservation of the “connectome” should be sufficient for meaningful resuscitation attempts of cryonics patients but it may not be necessary. As long as the original connectome can be inferred from what is preserved, damage associated with cerebral ischemia or suboptimal cryonics technologies do not necessarily exclude future resuscitation. In this presentation I will present a general framework for reconstructive connectomics and explore theoretical and experimental research directions for reconstructing damaged and altered connectomes.

Bio: Chana de Wolf lives in Portland, Oregon, where she works as a business manager and biomedical researcher. She holds a B.S. in Experimental Psychology (2001), an M.S. in Cognition and Neuroscience (2003), and has extensive management and laboratory experience. She has several years of experience working as a research assistant in a variety of laboratory environments, and has taught college-level courses in neuroscience lab methods and biology. She is a Director and researcher for Advanced Neural Biosciences. Chana joined as a member of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in 2007 where she also worked as a Research Associate at Alcor to help build a sustainable, multi-faceted cryonics research program

RANDAL KOENE – BRAIN EMULATION AND NEUROPROSTHETICS: A SYSTEM OF FUNCTIONS TO BE SUSTAINED

Being, now or following revival from cryopreservation, ultimately depends on one’s ability to experience and to do so in the manner that is characteristic of one’s individual mind. Recently, it has become possible to address this problem in a concrete and systematic manner, largely due to rapid advances in computational neuroscience and data acquisition, both structurally (the popular field of “connectomics”) and functionally (brain activity mapping). The process of personal experience – like any process – involves some mechanisms operating at a given time under the influence of an environment state, a state that can include sensory input and functional “memory” established as a result of prior conditions. An emulation or prosthesis is then the attempt to replace a system of processing with an equivalent set of mechanisms that carry out the same processing within established success criteria. The engineering approach to understanding a system sufficiently that it can be emulated or replaced by prostheses is known as system identification. I will describe how system identification may be feasibly carried out for an individual human brain, and how constraints and requirements can be learned through projects with iterative improvements. I will present the projects that are underway to develop neuroscience tools with which successful system identification may be accomplished.

Bio: Dr. Randal A. Koene is CEO and Founder of the not-for-profit science foundation Carboncopies.org as well as the neural interfaces company NeuraLink Co. Dr. Koene is Science Director of the 2045 Initiative and a scientific board member in several neurotechnology companies and organizations.

MAX MORE – MAXIMIZING REVIVAL PROBABILITY: PRESERVATION, RECORDING, INTERPOLATION, AND RECONSTRUCTION

The proper ultimate goal of cryonics is reversible suspended animation. While we should continually strive for that goal, we do not know if or when it will be fully achieved. Until then, we must grapple with the probability that cryopreservation will in itself not fully preserve personal identity critical information. A revived individual may be missing pieces of his or her life, or some of the existing pieces may be fuzzier than they were before clinical death. It may be feasible to fill in the gaps and to sharpen the focus by feeding into the repair and revival process biographical information with a high degree of resolution. That information may also serve to validate the accuracy of a reconstructed connectome. Up to the present, cryonics organizations have offered minimal storage of personal-identity relevant information. In this talk, I will consider ways in which members of cryonics organizations could use the emerging tools and technologies associated with the “Quantified Self” concept to capture and record detailed biographical information, and how cryonics organizations could assist with this and convey the resulting data to a future capable of repairing and resuscitating cryonics patients.

Bio: Max More is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. More has a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from St. Anne’s College, Oxford University (1984-87). He was awarded a Dean’s Fellowship in Philosophy in 1987 by the University of Southern California. He studied and taught philosophy at USC with an emphasis on philosophy of mind, ethics, and personal identity, completing his Ph.D. in 1995, with a dissertation that examined issues including the nature of death, and what it is about each individual that continues despite great change over time.

KEEGAN MACINTOSH – REINTEGRATION OF CRYONICS PATIENTS: LEGAL AND LOGISTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Given the host of complicated problems to be solved before resuscitation of cryonics patients is possible, it is easy to leave planning for their reintegration for another day. However, this assumes that there is nothing particularly important that can be done about reintegration prior to patient cryopreservation, which might be impossible, or at least far more difficult afterward. It also underestimates the impact that fear of dis-integration has on individuals’ decisions on whether to sign up for cryonics, which might be alleviated if we had more concrete plans for reintegration, with presently actionable components. In this talk, Keegan Macintosh will survey several aspects of cryonics patient reintegration, both legal and logistical, that can be tangibly worked on today.

Bio: Keegan Macintosh received his J.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2012, and is Executive Director of the Lifespan Society of British Columbia, a non-profit organization established to educate the public on life extension strategies and protect access to potentially life-saving technologies. Keegan is a board member of the Institute for Evidence Based Cryonics, as well as the Cryonics Society of Canada.

ASCHWIN DE WOLF – CRYONICS WITHOUT REPAIR

Cryonics aims to stabilize critically ill patients at low temperatures in anticipation of future medical treatment. While the concept of cell repair is often associated with the practice of cryonics, it is not an intrinsic element of the procedure. Advanced cryonics technologies will permit reversible cryopreservation of the patient. If human suspended animation would be achieved cryonics would solely involve future treatment of the patient’s disease and its underlying pathologies. In this talk I will discuss why reversible cryopreservation is important and which technical obstacles need to be overcome to make it a reality.

Bio: Aschwin is a Director and researcher for Advanced Neural Biosciences, the editor of Cryonics magazine, serves as a consultant for a number of cryonics organizations, and has published technical articles on various cryonics topics.

Northern California CryoFeast

This year’s Northern California CryoFeast will be held on Sunday, December 11, 2011, at 1:00 pm at the Halcyon Molecular facility in Redwood City, California.

About Halcyon:
Halcyon’s mission is to solve death. Currently they are pursuing inexpensive, accurate DNA sequencing as a powerful means of understanding biology, curing disease and extending health.  Their approach to sequencing involves high speed electron microscopy, synthetic chemistry, and nanomanipulation (not related to R. Merkle’s concepts). 

Halcyon Molecular is at:
505 Penobscot Dr
Redwood City, CA 94063

Event Schedule:
1 PM event starts and feasting begins
1:30 PM tour of Halcyon’s labs
2:00 PM talks start & feasting continues
Followed by informal discussion
6:00 PM event ends

Presentations:
If you have an idea for making cryonics work, you are welcome to present a brief but interesting 5-7 minute talk on cryonics or a related topic! There will be a projector and computer for PowerPoint presentations. Also, access will be provided for Google presentations.

Here are a few ideas:
* The search for a magical vitrification solution.
* Summary of an excellent paper in cryonics.
* Cryonics by the numbers: how many cryonicists are there?
* Cryonics as the easiest AND most under-funded of the Possible Ways of Not Dying    (uploading, bio-cures, AI being the other biggest 3)
* Summary of ‘the rabbit kidney’ results.  One kidney?   Not reproducible?
* How bad is warm ischemia really?
* Idea of how to make reversible cryonics work.
* Or just bring your questions. 

The host will give a short 5 minute talk on “Idea of how to make reversible cryonics work” but anyone is welcome to discuss this topic.

There will be pizza, fruit, and plenty of drinks but feel free to bring other dishes to share. 

If you would like to give a brief presentation send an email to:  m@halcyonmolecular.com
Also to RSVP for this event, please send an email to: m@halcyonmolecular.com

Alcor CEO Speaking at New York Conference – May 14, 2011

Humanity+, the world’s leading nonprofit organization advocating the ethical use of technology to expand human capabilities, today announced its first conference in partnership with Parsons The New School for Design, a leading art and design school in New York City dedicated to the advancement of design thinking and education. Transhumanism Meets Design explores the role of design in transcending and transforming human potential, and will take place at The New School May 14–15, 2011. This groundbreaking conference features lectures and panels that bring together and explore the nexus of emerging technology, transdisciplinary design, culture, media theory, and biotechnology.

Transhumanism aims to elevate the human condition. Design is a process for problem solving. At Transhumanism Meets Design, these two domains will join forces as leading transhumanists, cyberneticists, life extensionists, singularity advocates, artificial intelligence experts, human enhancement specialists, inventors, ethicists, and philosophers gather to explore human futures, ask questions, construct ideas, and peer over the edge into the unknown.

“Translating this narrative calls for a transdisciplinarity that brings emerging technologies and creative insights to the forefront. Transhumanist aesthetics pioneers how we will design our existence and future identity,” said Natasha Vita-More, vice chair of Humanity+, who co-chairs the conference with Ed Keller, associate dean of Distributed Learning and Technology at Parsons. “We live in an era of unprecedented interest in design,” said Keller. “Recognizing that the body could be the next frontier, we are challenging designers to use the research tools developed to enhance products to engage and extend the human body.”

Featured speakers include Howard Bloom, author of Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century, and Vivian Rosenthal, cofounder of New York–based Tronic Studio. Also speaking are artificial intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel, chair of Humanity+; Natasha Vita-More, artist and theorist of transhumanism; strategic philosopher Max More, CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation; and neuroscientist Anders Sandberg, a James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University.

For a full list of confirmed speakers and additional information about the conference, please visit the conference website: http://humanityplus.org/conferences/parsons.

To register for the conference, please visit the conference EventBrite page:
http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1089760503

The press release is here: http://humanityplus.org/conferences/parsons/press-release/

Cryonics Northwest Seattle Meeting

The Seattle region of the Cryonics Northwest group will be meeting to have lunch and socialize in our first get together and organizing effort.

The buffet style lunch will be held at Spice Route Indian Cuisine  on Saturday, February 12th at 12:30 P.M.

Location:

Spice Route Indian Cuisine
2241 148th Avenue Northeast
Bellevue, WA 98007

Please come and introduce yourself and we will see just how many we are in this corner of the States.

We will be discussing the topics of transport training and ongoing gatherings on a monthly basis.

RSVP is required so please contact Regina Pancake at rpancake@gmail.com or Eron Hennessey at eron.hennessey@gmail.com or visit our Facebook event page.

We look forward to meeting you all!