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$3 Million Pledged for Brain Cryopreservation Research

Colton, California and Toronto, Ontario, August, 1996 -- Over
$3 million has been pledged toward the "Prometheus Project," a
10-year, $10 million dollar research project in mammalian brain
cryopreservation, according to Paul Wakfer, originator of the project.
Wakfer states that over forty individuals and organizations have
pledged this total after only two months of a pledge drive.

The goal of the research project is to convincingly demonstrate the
fully reversible preservation of a mammalian brain at extremely low
temperatures.  The project will attempt to cool a mammalian brain to
a temperature of -140 degrees Celsius for six months, then to restore
the cooled brain to normal physiological and mental functioning.  If
the project succeeds in this goal, findings will be published in a
peer reviewed scientific journal.

Wakfer has named the project the Prometheus Project because of its
audacity and its potential to save lives.  Wakfer states, "The
goal of the Prometheus Project is to find and to demonstrate a
cryopreservation method which will allow a living brain to be stored
indefinitely and restored to life. I can't think of any research in
the area of suspended animation which is more important and deserving
of support.  If we can preserve and restore brain function in a
mammal, how far can we be from being able to keep a human's identity
alive indefinitely. This could be the ultimate in life-saving

Wakfer proposes that a new, for-profit company be formed to conduct
the research.  Some procedures and materials developed in the research
would enter the public domain, while the company would seek to patent
and license others.

While the pledge drive continues, Wakfer and his scientific and
business advisors are developing a research plan and a business plan.
The plans will be continually modified to gain the approval of most
pledgers.  Once individuals and organizations who have pledged a
total of $10 million approve the plans, the new company will be
incorporated, shares will be sold, and the research effort will begin.

Wakfer's target for start-up is early 1998, but, he says, "I'm in this
for the long haul."  Wakfer emphasizes that pledges are not legally
binding and that funds are not being solicited at this time.

Need for the Research

We all have heard stories about people who drowned in cold water and
were resusciated after extended periods.  This is possible because the
low temperature slows down biological activity.  Once the drowning
victim's heart stops beating, the damage from lack of oxygen is slowed
substantially in cooled tissues and organs.  Because the brain is
supplied with cooled blood and exposed to cold diffusing through the
skull, it too is protected from damage longer.

Doctors, medical technologists and cryobiologists take advantage of
this phenomenon to save lives.  For instance, human organs can be
chilled and stored for a number of hours for transplantation.  During
certain types of neurosurgery, the body and brain are cooled and the
heart is stopped deliberately for up to an hour.  "Cooling helmets"
and mobile blood-cooling apparatus to provide emergency life support
for trauma victims are being designed and tested.

Theoretically, organs and even entire bodies could be stored
indefinitely at an extremely low, sub-freezing temperature.  However,
simply freezing an organ or body causes tremendous damage from
the crystalization of the water in the cells.  Recently, research
efforts have been undertaken to solve this problem.  Organ-specific
cryoprotective agents have been identified that dramatically reduce
ice damage but are not so toxic that they kill the organ being
preserved.  In other research, less damaging temperature-reduction
procedures and chemical preservation techniques have been identified.

Ultimately, the Prometheus Project is expected to garner support (and
pledges) from investors and organizations interested in possible
applications for emergency medicine and organ transplantation.
Initially, however, the majority of pledges have come from individuals
who are signed up for cryonic suspension, or cryogenic preservation.

Cryonics is the cryogenic preservation of human remains at ultra-low
temperature in the hope that some day the donor will be restored to
life and health.  Approximately 60 people have been cryogenically
preserved, and another 600 "cryonicists" are signed up for future
preservation.  Many cryonicists, reasoning that the brain is where
memories and personality reside, have signed up to have only their
brains or heads preserved.

In a cryogenic preservation, the blood is washed out and the body
is cooled after legal death, then the body is perfused with a
cryoprotective agent, further cooled to -196 degrees Celsius, and
stored.  (This temperature is the temperature of liquid nitrogen,
which is readily available, and is cold enough to enable indefinite
storage without biological deterioration.)

The perfusion process, cryoprotective agent, and cooling process are
all crude at this point.  For those who are already cryopreserved, it
is uncertain whether the nanotechnologies of the future will be able
to perform adequate repair at the molecular level to the damage caused
by the dying process and the cryopreservation, and whether such repair
would be sufficient to restore memory and personality.  For obvious
reasons, living cryonicists are eager to see improvements in cryogenic
preservation technology.

Research Plan Takes Shape

The research will attempt to convincingly demonstrate the fully
reversible cryopreservation of a mammalian brain.  "Reversible" means
that memory and mental functions would be recovered to the same extent
as would be recovered from a similarly traumatic surgical procedure.

The scientists retained by the Prometheus Project will tackle
two challenges:  developing the cryopreservation techniques; and
objectively measuring their efficacy in preserving memory and mental
function.  Consequently, both cryobiologists and neurobiologists will
participate.  The Prometheus Project will seek to retain the most
qualified scientists available.

Among cryopreservation techniques, perhaps the most promising is
vitrification.  In this technique, the blood in the organ to be
preserved is replaced with a solution of cryoprotectant chemicals.
The cryoprotectants do not crystalize at low temperatures; rather,
they behave as glass, becoming solid without crystalization.

The difficulties faced by the cryobiologists working on the Prometheus
Project will be, first, to find cryoprotectants that behave as glass
in the brain at deep, cryogenic temperatures and that are not toxic
to the brain; second, to develop perfusion techniques that enable
thorough perfusion of the brain with these cryoprotectants; and third,
to develop re-warming techniques that do not create crystalization or
leave the brain without oxygen at warm temperature for too long.

Medical research institutions, such as the Red Cross, have
made substantial investments over the past decade to perfect
cryopreservation of transplantable organs.  This work has shown steady
progress, with viable kidneys now recoverable from temperatures as
low as -45 degrees Celsius.  Although the cryoprotectants used are
organ-specific, these past efforts will help the Prometheus Project
get off to a fast start.

The project's neurobiologists have a different challenge:  measuring
brain function, especially in a brain severed from the body.

To meet both challenges, the research likely will proceed in stages.
Stage 1 is the development and demonstration, by light and electron
microscopy, of good histologic preservation after rewarming from -140
degrees Celsius.  Stage 2 is the recovery of mammalian brains after
rewarming from -140 degrees Celsius, with viability and restoration of
memory demonstrated by electrophysiological study of isolated brains.
Stage 3 is a demonstration of complete neurological recovery in a
large animal model after cryopreservation of the brain to low sub zero
temperatures.  Two alternative approaches that are being considered
for Stage 3 are retaining the brain in the body, but isolating its
vasculature ("in situ"), and isolating the brain and head from the
body entirely.

Pledge Campaign Enters New Phase

To date, the pledge campaign is the Prometheus Project.  Perhaps most
remarkable about Wakfer's pledge campaign is that the $3 million has
been pledged despite an almost total lack of publicity.  The first
$1 million was pledged within two weeks after Wakfer posted his
Prometheus proposal on an Internet private list with 22 subscribers.
The next $2 million was pledged within the next six weeks, after
Wakfer began posting information on the Cryonet list, which has 282
subscribers, and on the newsgroup sci.cryonics.

Recently, a number of cryonics publications have stepped forward to
help Wakfer spread the word.  Organizations of futurists and life
extensionists have volunteered as well to help with publicity.

Wakfer and project supporters are planning a series of meetings
across the United States and Canada to discuss the project.  Local
organizations, such as the Life Extension Society, are volunteering
to help with on-site arrangements.

Business Plan Takes Shape

Wakfer has set minimum pledge amounts of $1,000 per year for 10 years
or $8,000 in one lump sum in the first year.  For administrative ease,
Wakfer has requested that pledges above the minimum be in thousand
dollar increments ($100 per year).  If the new company is created and
a pledger approves the research plan and the business plan, he (she)
would sign a share purchase agreement for the amount of his (her) pledge.

An individual likely will have a number of options regarding the
purchase of shares.  Much depends on whether or not the individual
is signed up for cryonic suspension and on whether or not he expects
his shares to appreciate in value.  Among the options that have been
discussed thus far are the following:

* To purchase shares directly and hold them.

* To purchase shares and to have them transferable to his cryonics
  organization when needed for his (her) cryopreservation. The shares
  would thus contribute towards payment for the newer and possibly more
  expensive technology which the project may develop.

* To donate the pledged amount to a cryonics or life extension
  organization that qualifies as a charitable organization, with an
  instruction to use the donation for share purchases, and to deduct
  the contribution from taxable income.  The organization, in turn,
  would pool donated funds and purchase a block of shares in the new
  research company.

Organizations that qualify as charitable organizations and that have
offered to pool donated funds include the American Cryonics Society,
CryoCare Foundation, and the Life Extension Foundation.  (The Alcor
Life Extension Foundation and the Immortalist Society are still
deciding whether to take part.  The Life Extension Society currently
is seeking designation from the IRS as a charitable organization and
has not offered to pool funds at this time.)

Wakfer currently proposes that each share be credited at up to three
times face value toward the fees for any patented and licensed
technology resulting from the research.  For instance, if a cryonics
organization seeks to purchase patented perfusate, or to license
equipment, for which the fee is $15,000, it could redeem $5,000 of
shares instead.  This feature is designed to induce investment by
organizations that expect to use the technology.

This feature also will induce investment by individuals who hope to
benefit from the technology.  For instance, if an individual has
transferred shares worth $5,000 to his cryonics organization, the
organization could redeem the shares toward the $15,000 fee and use
the technology in his cryopreservation.

Wakfer cautions that this proposal is no guarantee that useful
technologies would be discovered or developed, and no guarantee that
the investor would get his money back in any manner.

Implications of the Research

Even if the researchers cannot demonstrate reversible cryopreservation
within 10 years, they may discover useful techniques and materials
that can be patented and licensed.  This would provide additional
funds to continue pursuit of the research goal and reward the
investors who risked their funds to support the research.  It is
expected, there would be spinoffs in fields such as transplantation,
surgery, and emergency medicine.

If the researchers succeed in demonstrating the reversible
cryopreservation of a mammalian brain, the financial and social
impacts could be dramatic.

Cryonicists would be ecstatic.  They would have proof that, in
principle, a life can be extended indefinitely -- that death can
be defeated.  The quality of their own cryopreservations would be
improved dramatically, with a greater likelihood of restoration.

Cryonicist and life extensionist Bill Faloon says, "Investing in brain
cryopreservation research is a direct assault on death.  If we truly
want to conquer aging and death, it is imperative that we support this
exciting project.

Faloon's partner, Saul Kent, asserts, "I believe this research is
absolutely critical to my survival.  I believe a well-funded program
to perfect brain cryopreservation will lead to major growth in the
cryonics movement, the achievement of whole-body suspended animation,
the acceleration of anti-aging and rejuvenation research, and the
eventual achievement of physical immortality.  I urge everyone who
values their lives to participate in this revolutionary project."

According to author and cryonicist Charles Platt, "I can think of few
developments as important to the human race -- and to me personally --
as reversible brain cryopreservation."

Cryonics is an infant industry, and the Prometheus Project, if
successful, would help the cryonics industry grow up fast. The ranks
of cryonicists would swell with those who want to live long, healthy
lives and who would come to see cryonics as "life extension of last
resort," or a "time machine" to bridge the gap between their normal
life spans and the time when anti-aging and rejuvenation therapies
become available.  The swelling ranks would enable economies of scale,
driving down the cost of brain cryopreservation.  Perhaps brain
cryopreservation would become an optional standard medical procedure
for terminal conditions.

The major implications of such a discovery are ethical, legal, and
social.  So long as a person's memories and identity are preserved,
can that person be said to be dead?  Would not anyone with a terminal
condition have not only the right to die without prologation of pain,
but an equal "right to suspended animation" under optimum conditions,
before his brain is destroyed by the dying process?  According to
Wakfer, "None of us wants to be in the last generation that has to die."

For More Information

Paul Wakfer can be reached in the United States at 1220 East
Washington St., Suite 24, Colton, CA 92324.  His US phone number
909-481-9620 and his US pager is 800-805-2870.  In Canada, he can be
reached at 238 Davenport Rd., Suite 240, Toronto, ON M5R 1J6.  His
phone in Canada is 416-968-6291 and his pager is 416-446-9461.  His
e-mail address is

News and discussion of the Prometheus Project may be found on the
Internet on the newsgroup sci.cryonics and in the Cryonet list.  To
subscribe, send email to: with the following in
the message body (not in the subject line): subscribe cryonet.

A list of Cryonet messages mentioning the project is on the Internet at

A private list, Prometheus Forum, has been set up for pledgers only.

Upcoming Events

BioPreservation, Inc. will hold a training session in cryonic
stabilization (cryonics field techniques), September 3-12, 1996 in
Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

The Alcor Foundation will be featured on the Discovery Channel
program, "Why Things Are," September 15, 1996 at 9:00 P.M.

The next LES meeting is Sunday, September 15, at 2:00 P.M. at
Exhibits, Inc., 4929 Wyaconda Road, Rockville, MD 20852.  This will
be a business meeting.  Topics of discussion include the Prometheus
Project (see article this issue), equipment, and training.

The next LES cookout/party is coming this fall.  Invitations will be
mailed to members and subscribers in mid-September.  Come to meet
other members and subscribers and compare "recipes" for a long and
healthy life!

The eagerly awaited documentary, "Cryonics: Souls on Ice" probably
will air on the Discovery Channel on Sunday evening, October 20, 1996.

The Fourth Annual Anti-Aging Medicine Conference will be held December
14-16, 1996 in Las Vegas at the Alexis Park Hotel.  Contact the
American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine at 401 N. Michigan Avenue,
Suite 2400, Chicago IL 60611-4267.  Phone 312-622-7401; Fax 312-622-1071.

The Alcor Foundation's ACT (Advancing Cryonics Technology) Festival will
be held January 31-February 2, 1997 at Alcor in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Magnificent Feast Highlights LES Summer Party

While husband Duncan Forbes barbecued himself and some chicken in
the summer sun, wife and rocketeer Margaret Jordan served happy LES
members, subscribers, and friends with a veritable feast of food and
stories at the LES summer party on June 22, 1996.  Although the secret
chicken recipe was not divulged, recipes for long and healthy lives
were exchanged.

Fifteen or so people came, and all had a good time.  Much thanks to
Duncan and Margaret, and let's look forward to LES's fall bash!

Equipment and Training Update

LES has procured the materials for construction of a portable ice
bath.  Design is nearly complete.  Construction will take place after
the September 15, 1996 LES meeting.

The LES Board has agreed to finance training for LES member Keith
Lynch in cryonic stabilization procedures.  Lynch will be trained from
September 3 through September 12, 1996 by BioPreservation, Inc. of
Rancho Cucamonga, CA.  BPI is the cryopreservation contractor to the
CryoCare Foundation.

Lynch will share his new knowledge (other than proprietary
information) with LES members at a future date.  Look for an article
in a future issue of the LES News.