Human Hibernation Might Save You Money on Heating Next Winter

By Gary Cutlack on at

It's not beyond the realm of science fiction to think that humans may one day sleep through winters to escape the oppressive cost of central heating, with one doctor claiming he's isolated the system that protects the cells of animals from damage, even non-hibernators, while they sleep through cold spells.

Dr Rob Henning told Motherboard of his methods, saying he thinks the hydrogen sulphide observed in hibernating cells could be the key. An enzyme that triggers the production of hydrogen sulphide was found in hibernators, one that stays working even at low temperatures -- when it switches off in other animals.

Henning applied his findings to the lab rat population finding that hydrogen sulphide appeared to "protect the animals from organ damage" when injected with it and subjected to low temperatures, opening up a future in which operations on humans could be carried out in a semi-hibernated state, letting the body be cooled and slowed before the work is done to lessen the chance of cell damage.

One other exciting additional effect could lead to a treatment that helps diabetes sufferers. The compound may also protect cells from damage suffered by those with poor blood sugar control, which would be a much more useful and beneficial result than some sci-fi dream of suspended animation trips to Mars. [Motherboard]

Image credit: Sleeping bag from Shutterstock