Can hibernation benefit humans?
To survive times when food is scarce and temperatures are low, some animals enter hibernation -- a physiological process that reduces their normal metabolism to low levels for days or weeks at a time. These periods of low metabolism, known as torpor, allow the animal's body temperature to fall to just above the surrounding air temperature, thus conserving energy. Humans do not naturally undergo torpor, but scientists are interested in the idea of producing states of "synthetic" torpor in certain situations, including spaceflight, explained symposium co-chair Hannah Carey, PhD, from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. "Harnessing naturally evolved torpor to benefit human spaceflight." "Synthetic torpor could protect astronauts from space-related health hazards and simultaneously reduce demands on spacecraft mass, volume and power capacities," said Matthew Regan, PhD, also from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and symposium co-chair.
16 day(s) ago