Cryogenization is still science fiction and there is no guarantee that it will cease to be.

The stories of people who want to be cryogenized after their death are the order of the day. I suppose the question we all have is, does cryogenization make sense with current scientific knowledge?

What does cryogenization consist of?

Although there are antecedents in the literature, it seems that the first serious defense of cryogenization as a tool to take advantage of the medicine of the future can be found in "The Prospect of Immortality", a book by Robert Ettinger self-published in 1962. Since then, aupada Because of the urban legend that Walt Disney had been frozen, cryogenics (or cryonics) have been part of popular culture.

And it doesn't surprise me. It is an idea as simple as it is powerful. Cryogenization is based on freezing bodies in the hope that in the future we will be able to bring them back to life. It sounds like a winning idea, but unfortunately the two essential elements (freeze and thaw) have very serious problems.

Can you freeze a body?

The first element (freezing bodies) may seem trivial, after all, we have been improving our freezing techniques for a long time. However, if we want to keep the structures intact, freezing becomes almost impossible.

Perhaps the best clue to this is that, to this day, we are not able to freeze even normal organs. This means that transplant operations continue to be carried out at full speed, with the extra risks involved, and even that many organs are lost in the process.

The most complex biological structures that we have been able to cryogenize and recover are embryonic

Today, the organs (and the body, in general) cannot be frozen because the water they contain, when it reaches the freezing point, increases in volume and destroys cellular structures and physiological mechanisms. In other words, it makes them useless.

It is true that there is a process of cryogenization (vitrification) that prevents the formation of ice by using an antifreeze gel at -196 degrees. The problem is that, for now, the most complex structures that we have been able to 'vitrify' have been animal embryonic organs. So no, as far as we know today, you cannot freeze an entire body without destroying its internal structures in the process.

And can you revive later?

That is the hope of proponents of cryogenization. Everyone recognizes that today it is impossible both to freeze in good conditions and to revive complex structures. And, faced with this, they play the card of the future.

As a scientific discipline it can be interesting; As a viable option today, it is not

A famous manifesto from a group of scientists said that some resuscitation techniques such as "cell nanorepair, advanced computing techniques, detailed control of cell growth or tissue regeneration can be envisaged." It may be, but all this is not science, but science fiction. At least today.

In this sense, some of the claims of these scientists are reasonable and, for example, cryogenization, as an area of ​​scientific study, is an acceptable discipline. But I am afraid that when we talk about the problem of cryogenization, we are not talking about it.

What is true in the cryogenic movement?

In other words, are we facing a plausible hope, a myth that does no harm to anyone or a fraud? The answer is not easy insofar as, logically, we cannot predict the future. But it is true that there are certain things that make us doubt the (real) objectives of this movement.

After all, the great cryogenization institutes are not research centers dedicated to "cryonics science", nor funds oriented to the technological development of the field; but structures dedicated, basically, to storing and keeping patients. In other words, little more than groups trying to manage (and spread) hope in the future that we do not know if it will come.

Images | Pascal, Miguel Vaca

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