Suspended animation with hydrogen sulfide?

Suspended animation with hydrogen sulfide?

It may smell like rotten eggs, but it turns out H2S may be able to slow down the chain of chemical degradation that causes death in cells that are deprived of oxygen. Biologist Mark Roth can supposedly take a lab rat, stop its heart with a dose of hydrogen sulfide, and bring it back to life an hour later just by turning off the gas. Quoting now from this article at

Scientists are starting to understand that death isn’t caused by oxygen deprivation itself, but by a chain of damaging chemical reactions that are triggered by sharply dropping oxygen levels. The thing is, those reactions require the presence of some oxygen. Hydrogen sulfide takes the place of oxygen, preventing those reactions from taking place. No chain reaction, no cell death.

Roth has won a MacArthur grant for this work, so there’s a better-than-average chance that it’s more than just hype.

24 thoughts on “Suspended animation with hydrogen sulfide?

  1. Rolf Zullig says:

    You cruel, sick shit! – Stop playing God! What gives you the right to experiment with living beings? You disgust me!

    1. angrier daily says:

      Jesus really?
      When your great grandchildren are exploring galaxies, or perhaps in ten years when you get hit by a car and put into suspended animation before getting your ass in a MRI, YOU’RE GOING TO FEEL FUCKING STUPID ABOUT THIS RESPONSE.
      A. It isn’t sound to accuse someone of “playing God” when you can’t accurately define “God”
      B. GO DIE and see if any of the future generations of enlightened immortal cyborgs even briefly notice.
      Of course you’d have to be in some sort of afterlife to see your great grandkids chuckling from a spaceship. If that is the case it will indeed be I who feels foolish. However… science.

  2. fast_luck says:

    This sick shit should stop it! What gives him the right to develop processes that could save untold HUMAN lives?

  3. Gilberti says:

    When we finally develop a “life-arresting” drug safe for humans, who would administer it? Would anesthesiologists be retrained in its use, or would there be a new medical technician solely to preform this procedure? How expensive would it be? How dangerous? How long can you keep a person in arrested life safely?

  4. Volkemon says:

    @Rolf Zullig-

    Not to belittle your concept of God, but this seems a FAR cry from creating life out of ‘dust’ or other godlike activities. This is merely a ‘pause button’ in the timestream of a life. Not even rewind! Now THAT would be something bordering godlike…

    It would be like calling a 10 year old that can drive a car around a field an automotive engineer.

    Neat stuff. Thanks SMR!

  5. Andy L says:

    I want to double my total (remaining) lifespan by spending every other month in suspended animation. Finally now I know how!

    I wonder how much hydrogen sulfide I can purchase before the end of the month.

  6. Jimbo says:

    I work in the same field and know for quite a while now about this stuff. What the guys there discovered is simply amazing. The possibilities and potential of this are endless. People with heavy wounds could be saved until the damage is repaired by a surgeon, it tells us a lot about the cells functioning and will probably also impact the research on aging in itself!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how scalable something like this is for humans. Re-oxygenation in a creature the size and metabolism of a rat, I can see, would be a relatively rapid process. In something like a human however, I suspect a re-oxygenation process would be considerably slower, which opens up the possibility for those seized chemical reactions to initiate in these low oxygen environments. Likewise, would the process of administering the hydrogen sulfide induce death in the transitional low oxygen stage?

  8. Jesse says:

    I remember hearing about this QUITE some time ago, and I still find it just amazing.

    I’d love to see this put to use in some way.
    (Though I certainly don’t want to ever “need” it)

  9. Harley says:

    So this is just another generic vague-tech-science-gee-whiz news blog now? Or are they going to release a new Instructables: How to Kill Your Own Mouse with an Arduino, RepRap, and Cory Doctorow.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You all are missing the real point here: Hydrogen Sulfide is what puts the SMELLY in FARTS. Yes, this is a fart chamber. You huff the biggest longest fart of all time, and time stops. Great. Yay science!

  11. johnboy says:

    First of all, your right. It isn’t playing God. And to answer the other questions…
    Yes, anesthesiologists will be trained, even paramedics (for heart attacks, no oxygen, no damage to heart). Yes it will be expensive, welcome to America, that is what testing is for in humans. I have a feeling the first humans will be ones who have no other choice but death and you would consent to it to if that was your only choice (i.e. immenent death from bleeding, heart attack,trauma). It will take longer to re-oxygenate an adult, it will be done slower also.
    Our first clue to this was a 4 yr young girl who fell through the iced creek and spent 30 minutes under water. When she was warmed as a last option she awoke with no brain damage and we wondered why and how. Turns out she froze so fast, she didn’t have time to take in O2 to start the chemical reaction of death. Instant S.A. provided by mother nature or God, whichever you prefer.
    And who knew all those fraternity day pranks would end up saving lives. Thank God for beer farts!
    Isn’t science wonderful?!

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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