Hibernation on Demand May Lead to New Treatment for Cancer and Trauma
Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) have, for the first time, induced a state of reversible metabolic hibernation in mice. Scientists are studying this phenomenon in the search for new ways to treat cancer and prevent injury and death from insufficient blood supply to organs and tissues.
During a hibernation-like state, cellular activity slows to a near standstill, which reduces dramatically an organism's need for oxygen. The research team temporarily converted mice from warm-blooded to cold-blooded creatures by manipulating their metabolism and inducing hibernation.
Mark Roth, principal investigator, said hibernation may be a latent ability that all mammals have, possibly even humans. If humans could hibernate on demand, potential clinical applications might be found in such areas as severe blood-loss injury, hypothermia, malignancies, cardiac arrest, and stroke.
Roth is an affiliate associate professor of biochemistry.
Research collaborators included Eric Blackstone, a graduate research assistant, and Mike Morrison, a staff scientist, who both work in Roth's lab at FHCRC.
The National Institutes of Health and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center funded the study. Study findings were published in the April 22 issue of Science.