DARPA Investigating Possibility of ‘Slowing Biological Time’
While it is unfortunate that war is often the inspiration for these projects and programs I guess in the long run the potential benefits will eventually make its way to peaceful (non military) applications.
When a soldier is injured, time is of the essence.
Known as Biostasis, the program aims to increase the odds of survival for injured soldiers on the battlefield.
When someone is badly wounded during a combat scenario, the most important factor in keeping them alive is getting them the treatment they need as soon as humanly possible.
To this end, scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have been investigating the possibility of slowing down the biochemical reactions within the body of injured soldiers to effectively place them in a suspended state until help can arrive.
One of the inspirations behind this idea is the tardigrade, a microscopic creature that can place itself in to a state of ‘cryptobiosis’ to survive freezing temperatures, dehydration and even radiation exposure.
The key to achieving this in humans, the researchers argue, lies in controlling special proteins or ‘molecular machines’ known as catalysts which speed up the rate of chemical reactions.
“Our goal with Biostasis is to control those molecular machines and get them to all slow their roll at about the same rate, so that we can slow down the entire system gracefully, and avoid adverse consequences when the intervention is reversed or wears off,” said program manager Tristan McClure-Begley.
While the ability to slow down the body of an injured soldier is still many years away, if the team eventually does succeed, such technology could also prove invaluable in other situations as well.
In the hands of ambulance crews, for instance, it could help to save countless lives.
Image Credit: Richard Bumgardner