Alcor News

Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

A-1377 becomes Alcor’s 158th patient on June 18, 2018

A-1377, a confidential whole body member, was pronounced on June 18, 2018 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He became Alcor’s 158th patient the same day (although arrived at Alcor on June 19).

On Saturday, June 16, 2018, a TeleMed alert was sent out at 13:31 hrs stating that confidential Alcor member A-1377 was close to death. A decision was made by the Alcor Deployment Committee to have Suspended Animation (SA) deploy for standby. A flight was booked to depart that night at 22:30 hrs which would arrive at the destination on the following morning
at 06:15 hrs.

This 49-year-old member had developed esophageal cancer several years earlier which had progressed to stage IV despite an esophagectomy, radiation therapy, and several courses of chemotherapy.

At the time of this case, the member had been in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with presumed aspiration pneumonia and sepsis and had deteriorated despite therapy to the point that he had required high-dose vasopressor support and mechanical ventilation.

Based on the member’s condition, the family elected to withdraw support as soon as SA was on site and ready. When the member was pronounced, SA performed the stabilization protocol and then transferred the patient to a local funeral home for the washout procedure. The perfusion was completed at 19:31 hrs and preparations for transport were begun.

The patient arrived at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, AZ at 15:06 hrs on June 19, 2018, and SA met with Alcor staff at 16:13 hrs for the patient handoff for cryoprotectant perfusion at Alcor.

Annual Meeting of the Alcor Board of Directors, September 15, 2018

The 2018 Alcor Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday September 15, 2018, starting at 11:00 am (MST) at the Alcor facility (7895 East Acoma Drive in Scottsdale, AZ). The start time is may change. The elections of directors and officers will be conducted at this meeting and a wide range of topic will be discussed publicly both before and after a lunch break. Members and the public are encouraged to attend this meeting. The 2018 Strategic Meeting is also scheduled the same weekend, including Friday and Sunday sessions. Some sessions are closed but a summary of the topics discussed at the 2018 Strategic Meeting will be posted to our blog and newsletter.

Timothy Hubley, A-1395, becomes Alcor’s 157th Patient on May 13, 2018

Timothy Hubley, A-1395, a non-confidential neuropreservation member was pronounced on May 13, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. He became Alcor’s 157th patient on May 14.

Timothy (Tim) Hubley suffered a stroke in January of 2016. He was starting to regain his speech and balance. He and his wife had just moved to Jacksonville, FL to be closer to his wife’s family. They would be able to help care for Tim and his wife. On Sunday, May 13, 2018, Alcor received a emergency alert about Tim. Tim and his family had sat down to dinner when a piece of steak became lodged in Tim’s throat. Chest thrusts and CPR were performed immediately by family members. Tim was taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced legally deceased.

Alcor began making arrangements immediately to fly to Jacksonville and perform field cryoprotective perfusion. The Medical Examiner contacted Alcor and stated that an autopsy was required due to the patient’s suspected cause of death and because he did not have a primary physician to sign the death certificate. Alcor worked with the Medical Examiner and we were able to avoid an autopsy. The Medical Examiner released Tim to a local funeral home with no additional issues.

Eric Vogt of ICE (International Cryomedicine Experts) and Alcor’s Medical Response Director, Josh Lado, arrived in Jacksonville on Monday morning. Field cryoprotective perfusion was started 17 hours after legal death was declared. Cryoprotective perfusion started at 08:50 (MT) and was completed at 13:15. A terminal concentration of M22 was reached and maintained to ensure equilibrium. There was no evidence of edema. Overall, the perfusion went well apart from a temporary stoppage of flow that was resolved by repositioning the pump and tubing. The patient was then secured in a neuro shipper and cooled with dry ice.

The team left Jacksonville on Tuesday morning. Upon arrival back at Alcor, the patient was placed into the cooldown dewar and the computer system was initiated. Once cooldown is completed, Alcor will perform CT scans to determine the degree of success of the perfusion.

More details will be provided in a forthcoming case report.

The Alcor Endowment Trust Supporting Organization

Alcor is pleased to announce the creation of the Alcor Endowment Trust Supporting Organization. The Alcor Endowment is a Type II supporting organization intended to support the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. It will provide that support by prudently investing funds above and beyond what makes sense to allocate for general operations and research, and by providing a stable payment stream to Alcor to assist in the running of the organization.

The Alcor Endowment serves several purposes. It provides a structure for strategically investing Alcor’s funds in a way that will put the organization in an ever stronger position as time passes. It guards over $5 million of assets to benefit Alcor, a figure that is expected to grow over time, in a separate organization, making it more secure from lawsuits. It ensures a smooth disbursement of funds to Alcor in a way that both protects against market fluctuations and against future boards/management spending down Alcor’s assets for short-term needs.

The Alcor Endowment makes annual distributions to Alcor which will average very nearly 2% over the long-term. To buffer Alcor from large market fluctuations, increases or decreases in the annual distributions to Alcor can generally vary by no more than 10% either up or down from the previous year’s distribution. The exact distribution algorithm is legally binding on the Endowment pursuant to the Endowment legal documents. Having a set distribution policy also checks against spending down of the endowment by future boards.

Unlike the Patient Care Trust, or its new successor, the Alcor Care Trust, the Endowment’s investment strategy is geared more towards maximizing long-term returns and less towards minimizing year-to-year fluctuations. This is because the Endowment is not focused on paying the patient care expenses.

The Alcor Endowment Board consists of five members. At least three of these members must also be on the Board of Directors of Alcor proper. The current composition of the Endowment is:

Ralph Merkle (Alcor Director)
Mike O’Neal (Alcor Director)
Andy Aymeloglu (Alcor Director)
Kenneth Weiss
Saul Kent

Donations can be made to the Alcor Endowment directly as an alternative to donating to Alcor. Alcor may also choose to transfer funds into the Endowment at its discretion. As of May 12, 2018, the Endowment had $5,980,706.73 under management. The full text of the operating agreement detailing the distribution policy, board composition, and other details can be found here.

Unprecedented $5 Million Contribution to Cryonics Research!

I am delighted to announce that Alcor has received a stunning $5,000,000 contribution to fund cryonics research. Alcor member Brad Armstrong (A-3000), came to visit Alcor in November 2016. After a tour and long and fascinating chat, before he left I suggested that he finally sit down and sign the membership paperwork. We would provide the witnesses and the Notary Public. 90 minutes later, Brad was done and handed us a check, making him a member. (See? It’s not as difficult as you think.)

Fast forward to April 2018. Brad’s assistant called to say that Brad wanted to make a major contribution to Alcor for the purposes of cryonics research. When I called Brad, I was immediately reminded that he is a down-to-earth, easygoing fellow who wants cryonics to work and is eager to fund what he knows matters.

Brad is an enthusiast of cryptocurrencies and an admirer of Hal Finney – the first recipient and early developer of Bitcoin – and an Alcor member cryopreserved in August 2014. The $5 million research contribution is being held in the name of the “Hal Finney Cryonics Research Fund”.

Brad’s cryptocurrency contribution was made by transferring it to an intermediary organization. Formally, we must therefore note that the funds were received from “Against Aging Fund at East Texas Communities Foundation”. But make no mistake. This funding came from Brad.

Brad has done well financially from his inventions and his cryptocurrency investments. Even so, we know that there are Alcor members of considerably greater means. Some of these are well into their later years. I imagine myself in the position of having a net worth of a billion dollars or more and being in my 60s, 70s, or 80s. Certainly, I would be funding life extension research. But I am certain that I would also be putting serious money into cryonics, not only for research to build up Alcor’s technical capabilities and strength.

On behalf of Alcor and the cryonics effort in general, I want to say thank you. But how can I possibly express those thanks adequately?

With a gift of this magnitude comes the responsibility of managing and spending it wisely for maximum impact. Until the Alcor board and Research Group determine how best to hold and use this funding, I have moved it from Alcor’s bank account into a money market fund earning 1.5%. As puny as that percentage sounds historically, it means a yield of $6,000 per month (after keeping $200,000 to shore up the Research Fund). Stay tuned as we determine how to use this remarkable influx of funding to boost Alcor’s cryonics research.

–Max More

Alcor creates a new trust for Patient Care funds

When Alcor created the Alcor Patient Care Trust (“PCT”) in 1997, our purpose was to create a safe place to grow and protect the funds reserved for care of Alcor’s cryopreserved patients. The number one purpose of Alcor is and has to be to maintain the already cryopreserved patients. Who would trust a cryonics organization which couldn’t do that?

The Patient Care Fund (before it was a separate Trust) was originally part of Alcor’s regular internal fund accounting system. By late 1991, this fund approached one million dollars and was by far the largest segment of Alcor’s assets. The Alcor Board realized that a better way was needed to protect this money. For one thing, it was a possible “deep pocket” in any potential lawsuit against any part of Alcor’s operation. For another thing, there was the potential temptation to use the fund for other purposes during tight financial times. So the idea was born to create a legally separate Trust to shield the fund from either of these possibilities.

We were advised to create the PCT under Alcor’s corporate tax ID number to take advantage of Alcor’s tax-exempt non-profit status. Over the years as the Trust funds grew ever larger, Alcor’s leaders began to look for a way to separate the PCT further from its Alcor corporate existence and to provide the Trust with its own tax ID. Unfortunately the two attorneys we asked about this advised us that it was extremely unlikely that the IRS would approve that kind of separation without a lengthy and expensive court proceeding. They also felt like the Patient Care Trust, being part of Alcor, was not as secure from outside lawsuits as it could be. However, they did have experience with the IRS approving a Trust which took the form of a Type 2 Supporting Organization, which could have its own separate existence, tax ID number, and 501(c)(3) tax status.

https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/supporting-organizations-requirements-and-types

Fortunately we had set up the PCT to include the ability “to form any other separate legal entities to hold title to the assets of the Trust in order to carry out the substantive provisions of this Agreement.” And of course, Alcor always has the right to set up other entities.

While a Type 2 Supporting Organization did seem like a useful organization to create, it had one provision that we struggled with: The majority of the Directors (or in this case, Trustees) of a Type 2 Supporting Organization had to be Directors of the Supported Organization – in this case, that means Alcor Directors. While the new Trust would be much safer from outside “attack,” we worried that we might create something that was more vulnerable to inside manipulation from future Alcor Boards of Directors. We think we have solved that problem, however, by keeping the PCT Trustees directly involved in the distribution of funds and payment of expenses, as described below.

The Alcor Care Trust Supporting Organization (“ACT”) was created on June 6, 2016 and approved by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization on June 20, 2017. Since then the Alcor Board of Directors, the Trustees of the PCT, and the Trustees of the ACT have worked carefully to put together an ACT Operating Agreement that details the relationship between the three entities. Funds were transferred from the PCT to the ACT on March 21, 2018. As they have been for many years, the funds are in the custody of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, but are now managed by the ACT Trustees.

The purpose of the new ACT is primarily to hold the Patient Care investment funds and to invest them in such a way as to allow them to grow at the fastest rate that is consistent with a low level of risk. The strategy being used is the same as that which was pursued by the PCT Trustees.

The PCT continues in existence with the primary purposes of initially receiving the Patient Care funds from Alcor after each cryopreservation and paying the quarterly bills for Patient Care Expenses. At the end of each year (or more often, if warranted), the PCT will pass along excess funds to the ACT for investment. If expenses exceed what the PCT has on hand, the ACT is specifically authorized by the ACT Operating Agreement to return funds to the PCT sufficient for the payment of Patient Care expenses. This arrangement also allows the two Trust Boards to be a potential check on each other and on the Alcor Board of Directors.

At some point in the future, we also anticipate that the ACT will provide funding for research into the technologies necessary to resuscitate our Patients.

The ideal arrangement would be that each Trustee Board include three members who have a relative or significant other in cryopreservation at Alcor. This is sometimes difficult to accomplish; but we are actively looking to increase our pool of qualified future Trustees. For now, we allow no more than two Trustees to be on both Trustee Boards. As we increase our pool of potential Trustees, we anticipate less duplication. The Patient Care Trustees are elected on staggered terms (1 Trustee comes up for election each year) by the Alcor Board of Directors. The Alcor Care Trustees are self electing (by law), also on staggered terms.

The current members of the PCT and ACT Trust Boards are:

Patient Care Trust:
Michael Riskin (Alcor Director)
Robert Schwarz
Michael Korns
David Brandt-Erichsen
[One currently open seat]

Alcor Care Trust Supporting Organization:
Michael Riskin (Alcor Director)
Brian Wowk (Alcor Director)
Andy Aymeloglu (Alcor Director)
Stephen Bridge
Michael Korns

On March 21, 2018, the Patient Care Trust assigned $12,707,650.65 in investments and cash to the Alcor Care Trust Supporting Organization. The Patient Care Trust retained $700,000 in cash as a cushion for Patient Care expenses in 2018, as well as its ownership position in Cryonics Property, LLC (the company that owns the building that Alcor occupies), and its ownership of Patient dewars and related equipment.

The full text of the ACT’s Articles of Organization, Operating Agreement (the equivalent of Bylaws), and other documents can be found on the Alcor website here:

http://www.alcor.org/AboutAlcor/patientcaretrustfund.html

Northern California Alcor 2018 April meeting

HOSTED BY: Zeng and Tim graciously agreed to host the Northern California Alcor April meeting at their home.

WHEN: April 15th, 3:00 – 6:00 PM

WHERE: 381 N Fernwood Circle, Sunnyvale, CA 94085

RSVP: 408-329-0394

Please bring some food to share

Careful with the address: There is 381 S Fernwood Circle nearby. That house has a beautiful front garden while ours has unhealthy bushes.

Norma D. Peterson, A-1547, becomes Alcor’s 156th Patient on February 22, 2018

Norma D. Peterson, A-1547, a non-confidential neuropreservation member was pronounced on February 22, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. The same day she became Alcor’s 156th patient.

On Tuesday, February 20 2018, Alcor received a Telemed alert about a patient in Redwood City, California. Norma Peterson was a hospice patient living in a memory care nursing home. Her daughter was in contact with Alcor in the weeks before about moving the patient to Arizona. On the evening of February 21st, Norma developed labored breathing and an elevated heart rate. The hospice nurse onsite thought death was very close and called Alcor. Medical Response Director Josh Lado and experienced contractor Eric Vogt flew with the field neuro cryoprotection kit.

On initial assessment and discussions with family and Alcor Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Harris, it was decided to transport the patient to Arizona. The patient appeared to have stabilized sufficiently to make this possible. A medevac jet was arranged for that evening. The patient arrived at the local hospital in Phoenix, AZ at 00:58 hrs. on Thursday, February 22nd. At 12:51 hrs., the hospital nurse contacted Lado stating the patient was not doing well and the nurse believed death was imminent. Lado and Vogt responded to the hospital and performed stabilization protocols for the patient.

The patient was transported to Alcor where the team and surgeon were waiting. The surgeon performed neuro separation and cannulation. Perfusion was stopped at 23:55 hrs. when she was moved into cooldown. On Tuesday, February 27th, she was taken for a CT scan and Alcor will determine the degree of success of the perfusion surgery.

Alcor Position Statement on Brain Preservation Foundation Prize

From Alcor President, Max More
March 13, 2018

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. This week the Brain Preservation Foundation (BPF), after independent evaluation by neuroscientists and Dr. Ken Hayworth, President of the BPF, awarded The Large Mammal Brain Preservation Prize to 21st Century Medicine based on these results. In 2016 the company had been previously awarded the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize for work using the same technology.

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 during cryopreservation. Alcor first published results showing this in 2004. The technology and solutions that Alcor currently uses for vitrification (a technology from mainstream organ banking research) were actually developed by the same company that developed ASC and has now won both the Small Mammal and Large Mammal 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 prizes – 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.
It may remain unclear to some whether this research and associated prizes show 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/2018/03/13/aldehyde-stabilized-large-brain-cryopreservation/
http://www.evidencebasedcryonics.org/media/LBASC.pdf