Is Artificial Hibernation Possible? Japanese Team Suggests It Could Be

Science Society Technology

Tokyo, June 12 (Jiji Press)--A team of Japanese researchers has succeeded in inducing a hibernation-like state in mice by stimulating a certain neural circuit in their brain, suggesting that animals could be put into such a state artificially.

Artificial hibernation, if realized, could be applied to the treatment of illnesses such as brain disease and pneumonia.

Animals in hibernation need only a fraction of the oxygen they normally consume. Their body temperature also falls to levels around the external temperature, with a substantial decrease in their metabolism. When spring comes, however, they wake up with no aftereffect.

If mice and humans, which both do not hibernate, are artificially put into a hibernation-like state when their ability to supply oxygen to the body decreases because of diseases such as cerebral infarction, heart disease and pneumonia, their oxygen consumption could be reduced and tissue damage could be avoided.

According to an article on its study, published in British science journal Nature on Thursday, the team of the University of Tsukuba and government-affiliated research institute Riken altered a gene in mice so that a certain group of neurons in the hypothalamus in their brain would react to a substance called CNO.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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