December 5, 2009

Creation of Zombie Pigs to Save Soldier Lives? (Wired)

Here's a weird story published yesterday by Katie Drummond of Wired:
"Pentagon: Zombie Pigs First, Then Hibernating Soldiers"

In short, the article describes how the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding research in medical science with the goal of finding ways to reduce the rate of blood-loss related deaths in soldiers. One of the wildest research theories describes the use of a hydrogen sulfide solution that humans could take and be kept "as close to death as possible" -- put into a state of supsended animation -- in which the heart ceases to beat and wounds cease to bleed until the body can be revived and healed.

Apparently, Dr. Mark Roth at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has already had some success with smaller organisms: the article describes that he's used a hydrogen solution on rats and was able to remove 60% of a rat's blood but keep the rat alive for 10 hours on the sulfide solution.

Tests are underway on pigs who have smaller yet similar cardiovascular systems to humans. The zombie pigs in the title of the article therefore refer to these test subjects who will be anesthetized, caused to hemorrhage, and then treated with various compounds to see if bleeding can be halted and the heart-rate reduced to a near-death level without the subject dying.

In the future, will we see badly wounded soldiers put into a zombie-like state of near death on the battlefield and then transported to hospitals where they can be revived?

I'll say again: this is wild stuff.