The Whole-body System The development of the whole-body system progresses with some changes to the user interface which will make the system easier to use and yet also provide more clarity on the data being generated at any given moment. We have also expanded significantly the note-taking capability of the system. We are at the point of final engineering testing for the ramp generation portion of the system and have yet to verify our 3-point calibration.
Redesigned Stabilization and Transport Kits As of August 20, 2008, our Transport Teams in Southern California, Northern California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Florida and the United Kingdom have now been outfitted with the new Med Kits. These kits are the first stage of the Stabilization and Transport Kits currently in development here at Alcor.
The latest configuration for the Med Kit allows for ease of use for our teams when stabilization and transport time is limited and crucial. Each medication is vacuum sealed into a clear plastic package containing all the required elements and written instructions.
Our Southern California Transport Team performed a test run recently at their July training session using a mock up kit identical to the now real and deployed Med Kits. Feedback from the field on the redesigned kit was very positive and greatly appreciated.
Research and Development
Our preparation of the new whole-body vitrification system is nearing the alpha testing phase. The patient enclosure has been tested periodically to ensure our design refinements are performing as expected. Changes include altering the configuration and flow of the nitrogen injectors, adding additional insulation, increasing the size of the plenum, and constructing a mounting platform for the circulating fans.
Regina Pancake, Readiness Coordinator, attended the training session held by Cryonics Institute and one of our own in southern California. The focus of the southern California training was a review of changes we have been making to the medications kit. We have settled on a new design that pre-packages everything needed to prepare the medications for administration, and this design was well-received by the southern California team. It is simpler and clearer for the team members, and the few modifications suggested by the team are being implemented.
As part of the recovery process, we have been building new medication kits for the regions. We will soon be replacing all of the med kits in the regions with fresh medications and with the new packaging.
Progress continues on the whole-body system. An outside contractor cut the custom chiller panel for heat exchange controls; and Hugh Hixon completed the wiring necessary for that part of the system. Programming continues.
Our equipment fabricator is currently building the new version of our liquid ventilation system, with all the modifications that came out of the previous round of testing done quite some time ago.
Different pumps are required for this version, and the heat exchange coils were fabricated locally for improved cooling.
In the last update we reported that Alcor’s Advanced Cryoprotective Perfusion System (ACPS) was awaiting final wiring of the system. The panel containing the refractometers and temperature monitoring systems, as well as other assorted electronics, has now been wired for use. The programmer is currently assembling all of the discrete components of the system into a single batch process for operation.
The patient enclosure, which will be used in conjunction with the ACPS during the cryopreservation process, has also seen modification. One change was to increase the size of the heat exchange area of the OR table where nitrogen will circulate for cooling. This made the enclosure taller, so we are reconsidering the use of a standard-height operating table. Another change was to miniaturize the chiller, which uses liquid nitrogen to cool and precisely control the temperature of the cryoprotectant as it enters the patient. These changes will enable a significant amount of floor space to be recovered (compared to the previous design) and all perfusion components (except the perfusate itself) to fit on the pump base.
We regret the departure of Chana de Wolf, which will put our cardiopulmonary bypass research on hold as we search for a replacement.
Steve Van Sickle will assume those duties until a full-time research associate is found. Alcor received numerous resumes and phone calls and will narrow down the selection in the coming weeks.
Final completion of the software for the advanced perfusion system is awaiting final wiring of the system. Given the large number of data acquisition channels and control features, we want this design to be both easy to use and robust in construction.
We are closing in on a final configuration for the new ATP. It appears at this time that we will meet our goal of being able to combine the pump and perfusate in one package
The new cabinetry and counters (with the exception of a few handles) are completed and in use. This upgrade significantly increases storage and lab counter space (about doubling it). This was a much needed upgrade given the increased tempo of laboratory work.
See pictures in the extended entry.
After tests with the cold stage of the new perfusion system, the cold
stage has been returned to the manufacturer for modification or possible
replacement. While it was cooling deep enough, it was not fast enough or
even enough for our purposes. The modifications will allow larger volume
and faster gas flow. Additional changes are being made to the wiring
bus of the Advance Cryoprotection System.
The new ATP system has been successfully tested with liquid. We are
currently going through an iterative process of packing it in a
shipping case along with the required perfusate. Indications are, as
we had hoped, we will be able to include the entire system in one
When the Alcor management changed in September 2005 to the current team, we developed a new policy of not talking about what grand plans we have for the organization, instead choosing to talk about things that we have completed. We implemented this policy change because the management team (consisting of Steve Van Sickle, Jennifer Chapman, and myself) were disappointed members. We were all weary of the empty promises, the distinct lack of improvement in technical capability and the lack of responsible fiscal oversight. We very deliberately set out to rebuild Alcor into an organization of which we could be proud, and we were enthusiastic about bringing positive change. Though it is a lengthy process, in my opinion we are succeeding, and we’d like to present a little perspective on the changes of late and on the challenges yet ahead.
A new scholarly paper has been published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology, reporting on work conducted here at Alcor by Dr. Sergey V. Sheleg and Hugh Hixon. The paper is available online:
Stability and Autolysis of Cortical Neurons in Post-Mortem Adult Rat Brains
It consists of a histological study of rat brains after prolonged global ischemia (such as results from cardiac arrest), something rarely studied in the scientific literature but of great importance to cryonics. A more detailed review of the paper is available on the website of the Institute for Evidence-Based Cryonics here.