Researchers induce suspended animation in fish embryos

from the hold-everything dept.
Researchers at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have developed a method to induce a state of so-called suspended animation in the zebrafish, a relatively new model of vertebrate developmental biology. Their work is reported in the 12 June 2001 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Early Edition No. 24). The abstract is available without a subscription.

The researchers discovered that after 24 hours of oxygen deprivation — resulting in cessation of all observable metabolic activity, including heartbeat — zebrafish embryos can resume a normal course of development with no harmful effects on their health or growth. "Understanding the mechanisms that control biological quiescence could have dramatic implications for medical care, as it could give us an ability to control life processes at the most basic, fundamental level," said Mark Roth, Ph.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center's Basic Sciences Division and one of the principal researchers.

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