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New Antifreeze Molecule Isolated In Alaskan Beetle

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the cold-hard-science dept.

Science 108

Arvisp writes with the news of a recently discovered antifreeze molecule in an Alaskan beetle that departs from most commonly identified natural antifreeze. "'The most exciting part of this discovery is that this molecule is a whole new kind of antifreeze that may work in a different location of the cell and in a different way,' said zoophysiologist Brian Barnes, director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology and one of five scientists who participated in the Alaska Upis ceramboides beetle project. Just as ice crystals form over ice cream left too long in a freezer, ice crystals in an insect or other organism can draw so much water out of the organism's cells that those cells die. Antifreeze molecules function to keep small ice crystals small or to prevent ice crystals from forming at all. They may help freeze-tolerant organisms survive by preventing freezing from penetrating into cells, a lethal condition. Other insects use these molecules to resist freezing by supercooling when they lower their body temperature below the freezing point without becoming solid."

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Is it.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30517904)

a Volkswagen Beetle?

Re:Is it.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518080)

It can't be unless there are 50 jews in the ashtray.

air-cooled (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518664)

I believe the Beetle (at least the real type 1) was air-cooled, so it did not contain any antifreeze.

Don't engines use anti-freeze for their geers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30519472)

I remember reading about that in a manual from Autoubon Society or something that the engines have anti-freeze splashed on them by the rods or something that keep the engine from freezing-up. This was from an open-circulatory system engine, not the closed-circulatory systems.

"Clever troll is clever"

Re:Don't engines use anti-freeze for their geers? (2, Informative)

Sillygates (967271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521172)

nope, that's just motor oil.

Antifreeze/coolant is only used in watercooled engines

I for one... (0, Redundant)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30517908)

I, for one, welcome our new anti-frozen overlords.

Re:I for one... (1, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518018)

Just wear boots and step on them.

Re:I for one... (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522900)

Oh, was that your auntie?

first, ftw? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30517918)

cool, yay.

Cryogenics? (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30517940)

Could this discovery be developed to make cryogenically preserving people work? As it is right now, the cells rupture during the freezing process -- if the cells remained intact, reviving them would become possible.

Re:Cryogenics? (4, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518026)

if the cells remained intact, reviving them would become possible.

Well, no more impossible than reviving them shortly after death, without the complications and damage (subtle or extreme) caused by freezing, or decapitating and freezing, or post-mortem whatnot.

I think the greater obstacle is the entire "reviving them after they're dead" bit.

Re:Cryogenics? (3, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518134)

I think the greater obstacle is the entire "reviving them after they're dead" bit.

It would still have practical applications, such as for long trips through space.

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518474)

Meh, maybe. At the rate we're going, by the time we're at the point of being able to build a cryo-ship, we'll likely be at the 'backup your mind to a computer', 'replicate a body from a digitally stored genome and a vat of chemicals' stage.

Re:Cryogenics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30519202)

So my backup gets to explore the universe, and I'm just blue ice?

Re:Cryogenics? (2, Interesting)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30519284)

Maybe communications could be sent through a small worm hole. Small because maintaining a large worm hole for passing ships through would require vast amounts of energy, but one small enough for a tiny communications pipe would become practical sooner. That would create a faster than light communications device (ansible [wikipedia.org] ) so that exploratory machines sent through space could then be controlled real time or close to real time by future generations. The machines could be sent today in hopes that by the time of arrival the technology will have been invented to send communications through a worm hole.

Re:Cryogenics? (2, Insightful)

javelinco (652113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518666)

Not so much. We revive people "after they are dead" all the time - and they are significantly less healthy than a specimen frozen using cryogenics (theoretically, of course). The obstacles are that the cells must return to normal structure after being safely thawed. At that point, shocking the heart into action will return blood-flow to normal, along with helping the lungs to get started - thus getting oxygen circulating in the system and avoiding cells dying due to that cause. Once that's avoided, IF ALL CELLS ARE HEALTHY, the person is alive and in reasonably good shape.

Re:Cryogenics? (2, Interesting)

severoon (536737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518714)

This is an interesting supposition, but there's no evidence that anything other than a quick revival would result in life being restored. We know that thermodynamically, the body is a veritable panic of high energy formations that are just dying to degrade (literally). We know that cryogenic freezing would suspend many of these processes...but all of the critical ones?

We've not yet begun to imagine what those processes even are, much less say with any certainty that cold temperature will suffice to prevent them over a sufficiently long period of time.

And then there's a whole segment of the population that will argue once the soul flies away, there's no getting it back. :-)

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

javelinco (652113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30520400)

I'd have to track it down, but sure - we do know. We've revived frozen animals before - the process just doesn't work on larger mammals. It's not unexplored.

Re:Cryogenics? (3, Interesting)

zacronos (937891) | more than 4 years ago | (#30520540)

This is an interesting supposition, but there's no evidence that anything other than a quick revival would result in life being restored. We know that thermodynamically, the body is a veritable panic of high energy formations that are just dying to degrade (literally). We know that cryogenic freezing would suspend many of these processes...but all of the critical ones?

We've not yet begun to imagine what those processes even are, much less say with any certainty that cold temperature will suffice to prevent them over a sufficiently long period of time.

Quite the opposite, actually. There is evidence [newsweek.com] that in cases of cardiac arrest (where the body is generally healthy aside from the fact that the heart has stopped), slow revival can allow for a higher success rate after longer periods without oxygen, because the cells themselves only die hours after cessation of blood flow. If you read to page 2 of that link, you see that induced hypothermia is sometimes used precisely because it does help slow the process of cell death which follows clinical death. Granted, as far as I'm aware, we don't know that cryogenic freezing would suspend all of such processes, but the state of research in this area is much farther along than you seem to think.

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

ElizabethGreene (1185405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524422)

The current understanding is that the ischemia (time without circulation) by itself isn't that damaging. The real damage is called reperfusion injury. When blood flow resumes, the byproducts of anaerobic metabolism and the associated free radicals start circulating in mass and causing havoc.

Both Alcor and Suspended Animation's perimortem cryopreservation protocols include medications believed to help reduce reperfusion injury.

Disclaimer: I am a funded Option 2 member of the Cryonics Institute.

Re:Cryogenics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518732)

Reviving dead organisms of increasing complexity is likely a critical step in our understanding and ability to create life from basic chemicals.

Re:Cryogenics? (4, Insightful)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518738)

This opens up a really gray area in terms of medical ethics. Here:

There are many documented cases of people being revived after prolonged (over one hour) 'death' caused by exposure to cold with few side-effects. However, and this is a BIG however- those people were "killed" by the cold; that is, they did not fall victim to leukemia and suddenly die, falling into icy water.

So...

The obvious(?) answer is to freeze people who are *near* death. Well, that's kind of murder/euthanasia according to the laws on the books. Without that particular issue, yeah, this would work great. But we'd have to come to accept this as preservation instead of euthanasia. We could work it until the chances of coming out of it alive were the same as surviving open-heart surgery or something comparable, but I think there would still be that mental/emotional block. Not to mention that critically-ill/hospice patients are already fragile. "Gramp is still alive but we're going to freeze him," still has a funeral feel. The person is, in effect, dying until revived when whatever criteria were met. If we don't cure cancer (for example) in our lifetime, then that *is* a funeral for the patient's family and friends.

-b

Re:Cryogenics? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30520310)

This opens up a really gray area in terms of medical ethics

Think about the problems in the in the legal arena:

1) Gramps is still alive.

2) Gramps always voted Democrat.

3) Therefore...
4) Profit!

Oh wait, it's already been done.

That's just the beginning of ethical dilemmas. (1)

weston (16146) | more than 4 years ago | (#30520674)

Because barring some economic revolution (likely only presaged by the discovery of insanely cheap inexhaustible low-impact energy source), the costs of keeping people in a state of suspended animation are going to be an agonizing issue. The space for keeping people alone could to be an issue, let alone the costs of attentive and professional maintenance techs and medical staff, and of course, refrigeration. I think at a minimum we're talking about Manhattan apartment prices and possible continual hospital stay prices.

So... after you've decided it's OK to "kill" someone by freezing them, you have to decide: can you afford it? Is it worth it? How much life do they have left even assuming in 20 years there's a cure for cancer? How are they going to feel if in 20 years they wake up and their children are their biological age -- or potentially dead, along with most of their contemporary friends are dead? But on the other hand, how are you going to feel about letting a loved one go when the prospect of magical medical advances just 20-30 years out are in front of you? How would you live it down if you didn't?

And that's just the micro issues. How does economics change when people can sometimes sleep and let an investment compound and compound -- and wake up and suddenly consume? Ever longer chronological periods of life alternating between consumption and maintenance for a steadily increasing population?

Heck, what happens when the rich can afford this but the poor can't? An oligarchy of long-lived who can profit handsomely from certificates of deposit, let alone better investments?

Re:That's just the beginning of ethical dilemmas. (1)

Grismar (840501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521908)

An extremely amusing, tongue-in-cheek short movie about the problem you are talking about is the Norwegian "Cold and Dry".

If you have a chance to see it at some festival or perhaps find it somewhere on the net, I recommend it http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1223897/ [imdb.com] .

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

Grismar (840501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521934)

But we'd have to come to accept this as preservation instead of euthanasia.

Let's start thinking about accepting it when someone actually succeeds in thawing out and reanimating a corpsicle. Sofar, I've only heard of people being turned into eerily life-like ice busts of their former selves. I'll believe it when I see it, until then I think this discussion is about as useful as discussing close encounter of the third kind protocols.

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30519086)

>I think the greater obstacle is the entire "reviving them after they're dead" bit.

I tried reviving someone before they were dead, and they got mightily annoyed with me! I recommend waiting until they are dead or unconscious before trying it out.

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521252)

I think the greater obstacle is the entire "reviving them after they're dead" bit.

Isn't the whole point of cryogenics was to keep the body frozen long enough to overcome that obstacle?

Re:Cryogenics? (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518052)

Rapid freezing of tissue should act in a similar fashion. THe problem of course is being able to freeze tissue at the rate required to form the glass-like phase of ice. I suspect that this antifreeze molecule may work in cryogenic preservation if it shows low toxicity/immune response from the host. Something to keep in mind about frozen tissue as well is the fact that even at these extremely low temperatures, chemical reactions that degrade the sample still occur so there is a limit to how long even the most sturdy cells (like cancer cells) can be stored. If the tissue is frozen for too long of a time, revival may prove to be unlikely or even impossible.

Re:Cryogenics? (2, Interesting)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30520968)

There could be serious immunological issues with a compound like this. While it comes from a beetle, structurally this antifreeze seems to have a lot of similarity with bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which happen to be the endotoxins in Gram-negative bacteria. We produce the aptly-named lipopolysaccharide-binding protein to seek out LPS and raise the alarm to initiate an inflammatory cascade. In the abstract [pnas.org] to the paper, it mentions that a thermal hysteresis effect of 3.7 degrees C was seen at a concentration of 5mg/mL. Making the very rough assumption that the same concentration would be necessary to adequately protect human cells against the deep freeze, the required dose might be hundreds of grams (not unreasonable, considering it would have to integrate into every cell). The toxic response to LPS varies, but bacterial septic shock usually requires about 1/1000th that concentration.

Of course, nothing is known about the human immune response to this just-discovered compound (which hasn't even beeen fully characterized), so it's wild speculation on my part that your immune system might mistake it for a bacterial endotoxin. But if that did turn out to be the case, ironically it wouldn't be the cold that would kill you- it would be a fever.

Re:Cryogenics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518072)

Wrong, they're beyond the cell rupturing stage, but the vitrification [wikipedia.org] process is dependent on some rather heavily toxic chemicals. So maybe this can eventually be used for a less toxic solution.

Re:Cryogenics? (5, Informative)

7Ghent (115876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518094)

Cryonics does not freeze tissue. The current method involves vitrification, not freezing. Vitrification is an ice-free process in which more than 60% of the water inside cells is replaced with protective chemicals. This completely prevents freezing during deep cooling. Instead of freezing, molecules just move slower and slower until all chemistry stops at the glass transition temperature (approximately -124C). Unlike freezing, there is no ice formation or ice damage in vitrified tissue. Blood vessels have been reversibly vitrified, and whole kidneys have been recovered and successfully transplanted after cooling to -45C while protected with vitrification chemicals.

Re:Cryogenics? (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518248)

Does that mean we'll finally be able to travel to Tau Ceti and give the Race a taste of it's own medicine?

Re:Cryogenics? (2, Funny)

Stupid McStupidson (1660141) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518408)

Only after we develop the ginger bomb.

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

staalmannen (1705340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518298)

I think a cooler application would be freeze-resistant crops. The difficulty might be that the glycolipid (xylomannan) needs several enzymes to be correctly produced in other organisms than this beetle - in contrast to previous "antifreeze" proteins where freeze-resistance only involves introducing one new gene into the organism.

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521838)

Xylomannan occurs naturally in the cell walls of red algae, so recombination genes for plants are already available...

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518300)

No, nothing here would cause cryogenics to become economically viable. What motivation would future generations have to unthaw you? They already have your money.

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518332)

You've clearly never basked in my awesomeness.

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518374)

What motivation would future generations have to unthaw you? They already have your money.

Have you looked at our Federal deficit lately? Future generations will unthaw us so they can sick their debt collectors on us ;)

Re:Cryogenics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518516)

Future generations will unthaw us so they can sick their debt collectors on us

And what do you think puking on the recently unthawed is going to accomplish?

Re:Cryogenics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30520014)

It's "sic", not "sick".

Re:Cryogenics? (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518492)

Y3K? COBOL programmers could be very valuable.

Re:Cryogenics? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518676)

It would be fun to proclaim in a loud voice: "Welcome to the world of tomorrow!"

Re:Cryogenics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30520194)

People occasionally aren't douchebags?

Rather OT: Brain information storage paradox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518694)

Here's something I have been thinking about recently, which relates to cryogenic freezing:

First, let's assume the brain stores memories in some form of physical structures (it sounds a stretch, but it's been theorised by some). Whether that is in RNA, or in some unknown physical property. Speaking in favour of this is certain inherited behaviour in animals - and even humans, like fear of spiders, and the ability of babies to see whether a dog is snarling or not. From the 'physical storage' perspective, producing computer networks similar to brains is theoretically very plausible - it's like cutting an unfathomably complex car in slices, gradually understanding how it works, and then building one yourself.

The problem with "physical storage" is: Some people have photographic memory of their entire lives. This is a capacity-exploder. From a traditional full motion video storage perspective, it's like 99.999% of cars going at 1000mph, but a minority of cars going at 100,000 mph. Moreover, there is no consistent physical difference between the 100,000 mph car and the 1000 mph car. To me, this is an irrecoverable blow for the "physical storage" angle. Building a brain-simulation with "traditional memory" and one with "a lifetime of photographic memory" clearly would involve extreme difference in scales. That you cannot even notice or detect this difference in the physical structure of a brain is mind-boggling.

Secondly, let's assume that the brain stores information through electric activity. Perhaps some kind of fractal aspect of neural signals, or quantum storage, where "adding a signal" produces a signal that contains the full information of the previous one as well as the additional one, and trying to remember something is simply the brain trying to isolate that specific contributor to a quantum superposition. The memory-loss-inducing effect of electroshock therapy might well be a sign of this, and it would explain the unlimited storage paradox of photographic memory.

Yet if this is the case, how can cryogenic freezing work? It obviously works, because (as far as I am aware) any animal that has been frozen will still remember the location of nest, food sources etc. Freezing should end all electric signals. Gradual freezing (which is almost inevitable) should cause significant memory loss, as frozen signal recipients are unable to accept and just discard transmissions from still unfrozen transmitters.

The only crazy thoughts I have been able to come up with is that consciousness is really stored in quantum signals but compartmentalised "outside of the organic body" for animals as much as for humans, and after freezing has ended, you re-connect with those memories. Cue holographic existence, 'soul' etc.

Re:Rather OT: Brain information storage paradox (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30519508)

I hate to be rude but this is some of the most retarded shit I have seen in some time. Instead of wasting time theorising nonsense just do some reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory#Long-term [wikipedia.org]

It will be a boon to all involved.

Re:Rather OT: Brain information storage paradox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30519924)

I would have to call your post some of the most retarded shit I have ever read (although an exaggeration - I have read a lot of retarded shit).

The Wikipedia article presents a taxonomy of memory objects, various postulated sequences of practical memory utilisation, and brain areas that have typically been seen to be involved in memory formation.

None of this is remotely related to my post, which was about the storage medium of consciousness. More specifically;

* Calling some memory sensory, some short term and some long-term says nothing about how these are encoded into consciousness.
* Saying that practical memory use consists of "encoding, storage and retrieval" is meaningless. It is like explaining a car by saying its nature consists of "entry, activation, movement, halting and deactivation". The linked articles say nothing - the 'storage' article concludes 'memory storage is the process of retaining information'.
* Brain areas typically involved in memory formation are interesting, but in itself says little. "The limbic system is involved in memory formation" is like saying "Japan is typically involved in car formation" to explain how cars work. People who have been born with half a brain, and hence half a limbic system, do not show evidence of 50% memory capacity, which speaks against a structural memory model.
* All of the discussion pertains to how what goes into consciousness relates to what comes out of consciousness. The nature and storage systems of consciousness isn't discussed and poorly understood.

I don't find theorising useless when theorising can lead to the conclusion that all the likely alternatives seem absurd. People try to build computer replicas of brains based on estimating how much a typical person can remember, as represented in binary data, and scaling the computer system to this - but that's blown out of the water by photographic memory. There is still a paradox between a physical storage model, under which cryogenic memory should easily work but photographic memory shold be detectable, and a superposition or fractal storage model, under which photographic memory should easily work but cryogenics should be impossible.

In conclusion: Fucking worthless retarded twat. Stick a shotgun in your mouth and do the world a favour.

Re:Rather OT: Brain information storage paradox (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30520102)

I'm sorry you took personally what I said previously - I can only hope that the last line is not how you talk with people in the real world. You mentioned some quite silly things about memory - I called you out on it, and gave a link where you could find more information about it. I'm sorry you weren't able to find what you were looking for in two paragraphs so I will bring it out more clearly.

Long-term memories, on the other hand, are maintained by more stable and permanent changes in neural connections widely spread throughout the brain.

What is says here is that memory is a result of neural connections - you can find out more about this on the main page for long term memory. Contrast this to your thoughts on RNA, electricity or "quantum storage". I don't think much more needs to be said here.

You mention that you are really talking about storing consciousness which is quite confusing given that you only briefly mention something about it at the end, after spending your whole post talking about memory encoding. You have either confused the two concepts which are separate (note that plenty of animals show long-term memory but few consciousness) or god knows what.

Re:Rather OT: Brain information storage paradox (1)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30520090)

Here's something I have been thinking about recently, which relates to cryogenic freezing:

First, let's assume the brain stores memories in some form of physical structures (it sounds a stretch, but it's been theorised by some). Whether that is in RNA, or in some unknown physical property. Speaking in favour of this is certain inherited behaviour in animals - and even humans, like fear of spiders, and the ability of babies to see whether a dog is snarling or not. From the 'physical storage' perspective, producing computer networks similar to brains is theoretically very plausible - it's like cutting an unfathomably complex car in slices, gradually understanding how it works, and then building one yourself.

The problem with "physical storage" is: Some people have photographic memory of their entire lives.

This seems to be incorrect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eidetic_memory [wikipedia.org]

Eivind.

Re:Rather OT: Brain information storage paradox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521738)

You assume that long-term storage and short-term storage differ in more than their garbage collection period. Think of memory like memory on an old PDA...there's the ROM whose contents survive a complete power loss (this would be your babies fearing dog aspect, and then there's the RAM, which, at least in my old PDA, not only was used as temporary space for running programs to use, but it also held actual data as it differed from the ROM image, but the underlying storage medium was exactly the same. Now, while my old PDA had 64MB of RAM, no matter what, I could run the config utility and decide where the divide was between RAM used for programs and RAM used for storage. The brain (at least in my opinion, IANAN, but I do have enough of my RAM dedicated to the storage of medical journals and the like that I consider myself at least worthy of giving an opinion) is similar to this, where learned behaviors (stored programs) and perception (running programs) share the same total capacity, but the split is different in all of us, so while someone may have an eidetic memory and have exact memory of certain things, they may also be deficient in other ways, be it a lower focus on the world around them, less stored behaviors (storage on my disk could have more programs or it could have more documents, it's still the same storage capacity), or even have less short-term memory, allowing what would be temporary storage for you to be permanent storage for me....now where did I leave my keys? The reason it all looks the same to us is that we don't have a brain file system driver written just yet, so all the structures appear as simple ones and zeroes, seemingly randomly arranged. We can tell where the disk heads are currently reading, but apart from that, our understanding of the brain is about as limited as your understanding of quantum mechanics...or memory for that matter. Signals degrade over time, thanks to my very best friend entropy....but with fewer chemical reactions, fewer changes of one form of energy for another, there is significantly less heat generated, which means the rate of entropy drops as well (it doesn't hit zero until absolute zero though, so degradation still occurs...just at a markedly slower rate). Your problem is you took two things you didn't understand, memory and quantum mechanics, and decided that your lack of understanding of both was something they both had in common, so they must be related, so you tried to tie them together, when there is no compelling argument for (or against, apart from Occam's razor) a dependence on quantum effects. Perhaps the place you should have started was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic

Frozen for the Voyage (1)

Yergle143 (848772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30519468)

Yes well maybe sorta. Let's find out.

The trick might be that you would have to have a special GM modified (species)
of human with these (and perhaps other) antifreeze proteins inserted in their DNA.
This already works for plants: mammal data, not so good.

Simple transfusion of these in the blood of a normal human probably would
never work (but is being explored to preserve organs)

And no guarantees about your brain making the trip to cold storage and back
intact. We wont ask much of you when you get to Jupiter.

537

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30520066)

That is exactly what this new molecule does. The beetle actually freezes at minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit, and survives all the way down to minus 100. The chemical make up up the molecule is similar to the makeup of a cell membrane. Apparently if it was made up of mostly proteins like more common anti-freeze molecules, it would be too large according to TFA.

"UAF graduate student and project collaborator Todd Sformo found that the Alaska Upis beetle, which has no common name, first freezes at about minus 18.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the lab and survives temperatures down to about 104 degrees below zero Fahrenheit."

"A possible advantage of this novel molecule comes from it having the same fatty acid that cells membranes do. This similarity, says Barnes, may allow the molecule to become part of a cell wall and protect the cell from internal ice crystal formation. Antifreeze molecules made of proteins may not fit into cell membranes."

If they can identify and create an equivalent molecule compatible with human cell walls, that makes cryogenic suspension very feasible.

buffer that (1)

DABANSHEE (154661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522782)

If these beetles contain corrosion inhibitor molecules to, it'd be perfect for the radiator of my V8 Leyland P76, SQ-36 is getting damned expensive these days.

Re:Cryogenics? (1)

ElizabethGreene (1185405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524628)

> Could this discovery be developed to make cryogenically preserving people work?

No, but it is another step in that direction.

> As it is right now, the cells rupture during the freezing process

This isn't completely correct. The current state of the art causes significant dehydration of cells, and very few of them actually rupture during freezing. With vitrification, this damage is reduced even further as tissues become super-viscuous (like glass) instead of freezing.

The $64,000 problem with working cryopreservation today is Cryoprotectant toxicity. The chemicals that make it feasible to vitrify tissue are toxic at high temperatures.

Interesting reading on this topic (not linkspam. :D )
http://www.21cm.com/ [21cm.com]
http://benbest.com/cryonics/cryonics.html [benbest.com]

wait... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30517970)

"ice crystals in an insect or other organism can draw so much water out of the organism's cells that those cells die"

I thought the main problem was that the ice crystals both become sharp (like a crystal) and grow a bit in volume (ice being less dense than water) -- so the ice would burst out of the cell ravangin the cell walls and everything else at the same time. ...but the leading idea to save the cell was to pull a treefrog -- have a protein that expells the water from the cell, freeze drying the cell, so it was not damaged and in theory would take water back up again at warmer temps, without said ice crystal damage...

For the record, i can't RTFA from where i'm posting.

Re:wait... (4, Funny)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518038)

For the record, i can't RTFA from where i'm posting.

Well of course not. This is Slashdot, after all.

Re:wait... (4, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518136)

Unfortunately the summery took this bit drectly from TFA and it is as you'd suspect, technically incorrect. Ice breaks open the cells (lysing them) which causes the cell contents to spill out of the cell into whatever medium they are in. This quite predictably, kills the cells. However, ice that forms extremely rapidly forms a glass-like phase of ice that does less harm to the cells. The interesting things about this new antifreeze molecule are that 1) it's not a protein; it's a fairly simple molecule and 2) it's lipophillic (tends to hang around fatty things like cell membranes) which makes it a very useful discovery in terms of biological antifreeze molecules.

Re:wait... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30520460)

Of course this is but the latest anti-freeze that is found in nature.

Having spent some time on Alaskan Glaciers I frequently saw ice worms, especially on cold rainy days that washed snow cover away. These things live their entire life at zero C, or within 3 or 4 degrees thereof.

Locals win a lot of bets with tourists, who simply don't believe them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesenchytraeus_solifugus [wikipedia.org]

http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF19/1918.html [alaska.edu]

Re:wait... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518228)

"so the ice would burst out of the cell ravaging the cell membranes and everything else at the same time." Plants have cell walls, animals have cell membranes.

Re:wait... (2, Informative)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518280)

"so the ice would burst out of the cell ravaging the cell membranes and everything else at the same time." Plants have cell walls and cell membranes, animals only have cell membranes.

FTFY

Re:wait... (1)

staalmannen (1705340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518386)

In fact, plant cells have a cell membrane and a cell wall. Thanks to the cell wall, the cell membrane can only expand to a certain size (pushing towards the wall: Turgor pressure), which means that a plant cell in low-salt (destilled) water will not burst as an animal cell does.

YES! (4, Funny)

Mr.Fork (633378) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518008)

Now they can develop a candy for kids in the wintertime so they can stop sticking their tongues to metal posts!

Re:YES! (2, Funny)

temmi (706263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518148)

Sorry... as long as there are metal posts kids will try and stick their tongues to them. It's the law of nature.

Re:YES! (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518170)

How is this insightful? Really, if you have your tongue stuck to anything, be it a popsicle or a metal pole you can just pour some warm water over it and it comes off just fine.

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518202)

People have lost their tongues to frostbite and even died with their tongue stuck to a metal pole...

Re:YES! (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518308)

Citation needed. Plus, its really unlikely that someone would die because if need be people will yank their tongue off the pole even if its painful if it will save them.

Re:YES! (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518430)

Yeah but then there is that gross layer of skin stuck to the pole and your tongue is sore for days.... I would not know this from personal experience er ummm I was kid leave me alone!!! lol

Re:YES! (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518210)

I seem to recall that cold water is supposed to work better, for some reason I can't seem to think of.

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518416)

I seem to recall that cold water is supposed to work better, for some reason I can't seem to think of.

Hot water cools down faster than cold water, so it will actually freeze sooner. (Thermal acceleration or some such.)

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518504)

I call BS

Re:YES! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518636)

If only there was some way to get such a thing to explode, so Mythbusters could tackle the question.

Re:YES! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30519604)

Well they could try removing the child with dynamite

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518646)

Rate of temperature change is greater in the hot water- it will dump heat more quickly and temp/time is higher than cool water on ice. This also means that hot water will heat the pole and free your tongue

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518654)

No, mythbusters proved that warm water froze faster than room temp water did. Don't know how it worked but it did. it wasn't startlingly faster though.

Re:YES! (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518544)

The most commonly offered reason (that hot water freezes faster than cold water) is that the rate of evaporation increases with water temperature, and so the evaporative cooling effect is stronger for hot water than it is for cold, so hot water gets cold faster. But that's a dumb reason, since while true, the rate wouldn't be fixed there, it would stay proportional to the temperature, so when the hot water had cooled to the same temperature as your cold water, its rate of evaporation would be the same, and thus from that point on, it would cool at the same rate. The less commonly offered reason is that in that extra time, more water would have evaporated away, and therefore while the cooling rate would be the same, the size of the object would be smaller, so it would cool faster. This is true, but beside the point. It takes a long time for hot water to cool to room temperature, and the time shaved by not having to cool that extra 2 mL of water will be absolutely dominated by the extra cooling time over all. Try it for yourself!

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518274)

Yah, but what if you are alone?

I bet it is pretty hard to piss on your own tongue when it is stuck to a pole.

Wait... That sounds even worse.

Re:YES! (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518526)

The problem is, of course, how do you go and fetch the warm water when your tongue is frozen to the pole.

Re:YES! (1)

SanguineV (1197225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30519028)

Most people carry a repository of warm water (plus other stuff) in their bladder for just such an occasion! And if you can't aim well enough then ask a friend to help.

Re:YES! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524264)

Dhanghit, now I'n thuck to the phole in two pflaces.

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518264)

Sticking tongues to metal posts is an important lesson in life, as is frying a motherboard installing RAM without being grounded, or rushing to class for a final only to realize you forgot to put on clothes.

Re:YES! (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518588)

Pssssssh, poles are nothing. Real Men try licking frozen traintracks....

=P seems like the particularly appropriate smiler for this post.

Geez (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518048)

...poor guy

Am I the only one... (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518078)

Am I the only one that was more interested in the ice cream?

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518238)

I'm not completely sure I'd want to eat ice cream with a random beetle antifreeze in it. ;)

Re:Am I the only one... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518316)

Ew, this oxygen molecule I just breathed had previously passed through a sea slug, a mosquito, AND microsoft's main office. I think I am going to be sick.

On the down side... (2, Funny)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518132)

...the beetles have no protection against boil-over.

Small ice crystals are (1)

ChenLiWay (260829) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518164)

small

So this is why Volkswagen Beatles were "cool" (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518198)

They never overheated, and didn't require coolant.

Re:So this is why Volkswagen Beatles were "cool" (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518376)

And they worked eight days a week.

TFA (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518392)

Since the summary is inadequate and misleading.....
New Antifreeze Molecule Isolated In Alaska Beetle

Scientists have identified a novel antifreeze molecule in a freeze-tolerant Alaska beetle able to survive temperatures below minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike all previously described biological antifreezes that contain protein, this new molecule, called xylomannan, has little or no protein. It is composed of a sugar and a fatty acid and may exist in new places within the cells of organisms.

"The most exciting part of this discovery is that this molecule is a whole new kind of antifreeze that may work in a different location of the cell and in a different way," said zoophysiologist Brian Barnes, director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology and one of five scientists who participated in the Alaska Upis ceramboides beetle project.

Just as ice crystals form over ice cream left too long in a freezer, ice crystals in an insect or other organism can draw so much water out of the organism’s cells that those cells die. Antifreeze molecules function to keep small ice crystals small or to prevent ice crystals from forming at all. They may help freeze-tolerant organisms survive by preventing freezing from penetrating into cells, a lethal condition. Other insects use these molecules to resist freezing by supercooling when they lower their body temperature below the freezing point without becoming solid.

UAF graduate student and project collaborator Todd Sformo found that the Alaska Upis beetle, which has no common name, first freezes at about minus 18.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the lab and survives temperatures down to about 104 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

"It seems paradoxical that we find an antifreeze molecule in an organism that wants to freeze and that’s adapted to freezing," said Barnes, whose research group is involved in locating insects, determining their strategies of overwintering and identifying the mechanisms that help them get through the winter

A possible advantage of this novel molecule comes from it having the same fatty acid that cells membranes do. This similarity, says Barnes, may allow the molecule to become part of a cell wall and protect the cell from internal ice crystal formation. Antifreeze molecules made of proteins may not fit into cell membranes.

"There are many difficult studies ahead," said Barnes. "To find out how common this biologic antifreeze is and how it actually prevents freezing and where exactly it’s located."

This project was led by Kent Walters at the University of Notre Dame with collaborators Anthony Serianni and John H. Duman of UND and Barnes and Sformo of UAF and was published in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New organic anti-freeze (5, Funny)

formfeed (703859) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518402)

Beetlejuice!

Re:New organic anti-freeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518742)

It can be the new genocidal beetle industry!

On the current one, Wikipedia cites that Peru produced 200 tonnes of cochineal a year, of which one pound takes 70,000 insects, for a total consumption of 30 864 680 000 insects per year.

Now imagine sticking this bettle into every car in the world!

Re:New organic anti-freeze (1)

Hailth (1479371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518766)

At first when I read the title, I thought mainly the same thing. "Oh great, now there are going to be gigantic nasty farms of these beetles in order to fill every car with cheap, organic antifreeze."

The image was so horrifying... I can't think of a better place to be tortured to death than under a pile of Alaskan beetles in a beetle farm. Maybe it will happen in Saw 31.

Re:New organic anti-freeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521362)

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!
CARRIER LOST

na, **I** discovered a new antifreeze (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30518472)

Just touch a womans ass after shes been out in the cold for an hour.

Seriously...oh wait...this is /.

Science beats nature (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30518778)

I used to drive a 1963 Beetle. They don't need antifreeze!

What a fascinating universe we live in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30519602)

When I was reading the summary I felt like I was reading part of a plot synopsis for Star Trek or Stargate, except this is real. Sometimes I'm struck by what a fascinating universe we live in.

Pardon me, have you any Grey Molecules? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30520454)

Other insects use these molecules

"Hi, can I use your molecules for several months?"

northern new york state, february (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523116)

its been below zero outside for weeks, snow is piled high. working on this house with sunken foot high wells for the basement windows, requiring you to clean out the snow and leaves that often gather in the wells, so it doesn't break the windows or leak water inside. so i'm yanking out this snow and compacted ice and leaves accumulated, and underneath, half frozen in the ice, is a dead toad. sad

then the fucker kicks me

absolutely blew my mind. well below zero in february. half frozen in ice. i put him back in the window well, give him a roof of leaves

this was two years ago. same toad still lives in the same window well to this day, dining all summer with gusto on the worms and bugs that fall in the well. never left. probably frozen under the snow right now. some sort of toad oasis

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