Cryonics Breakthrough: Frozen Rabbit Brain Successfully Recovered

A New England cottontail rabbit is seen after it's release at Ambrose Farm in Dover, N.H. Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, celebrating the success of conservation efforts in protecting the species. (John Huff /Foster's Daily Democrat via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
John Huff/Foster's Daily Democrat via AP

FONTANA, Calif., Feb. 10 (UPI) — A team of scientists with California-based research outfit 21st Century Medicine has successfully frozen and recovered the brain of rabbit.

The feat recently earned the team the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize awarded by the Brain Preservation Foundation.

“It is the first demonstration that near-perfect, long term structural preservation of an intact mammalian brain is achievable,” foundation officials wrote in a news release.

The research team used a newly developed freezing technique called aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation. The process sees the brain fixed with glutaraldehyde and then perfused with 65 percent ethylene glycol, which stabilizes and protects the brain’s structure, before being slowly cooled to -211 degrees Fahrenheit.

The knock on cryopreservation is that it can’t adequately protect and preserve the synaptic circuitry of the brain, the delicate wiring key to memory and learning — and which encodes a person’s identity. But the latest success suggests it can.

“​Every neuron and synapse looks beautifully preserved across the entire brain,” said Kenneth Hayworth, foundation president. “Simply amazing given that I held in my hand this very same brain when it was vitrified glassy solid. This is not your father’s cryonics.”

The same research team used their ASC freezing technique on a larger pig brain — more analogous to the human brain — and are currently awaiting the results of that experiment.

Their success with the rabbit brain is detailed in a new paper, published in the journal Cryobiology.