SCOOP: How Pentagon’s Using “Water Bear” Technology To Save Critically Wounded Soldiers

Soldiers of the future, wounded on the battlefield, will no longer be rushed off the scene but will essentially be frozen in time until they can be safely evacuated to a medical facility.

That is what is being planned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), writes Live Science.

The inspiration for the sci-fi sounding response is actually from a more down-to-earth, indeed microscopic, origin.

Tardigrades are tiny eight-legged ‘micro-animals’ that exist mostly in wet environs but can dwell anywhere thanks to a process called ‘cryptobiosis’. When the microscopic creatures enter an environment not conducive to their life-cycle, they tardigrades slow down their biological processes to the point of cessation, allowing them to survive for tremendous amounts of time in areas of dehydration, freezing and even dangerous levels of radiation.

“Nature is a source of inspiration for the project,” explained Tristan McClure-Begley, the program manager of Biostasis, a group assisting DARPA.

A cryptobiotic system adapted for humans would also slow down the biological functions of a wounded soldier, essentially freezing time for the victim. In this state, medical professionals would be given much more time to obtain the injured individual which means the chances of their survival dramatically increase.

DARPA has termed this “slowing life to save a life.”

“Our goal with Biostasis is to control those molecular machines and get them to all slow their roll at about the same rate, so that we can slow down the entire system gracefully and avoid adverse consequences when the intervention is reversed or wears off,” McClure-Begley said.

The research into such a method is currently focused on experimenting with ways to slow down biochemical processes in cells and tissues and later building that up to cover the entire organism. According to DARPA, a successful procedure would be one in which all measurable biological functions within a system are slowed down and do not imperil cellular operations when the biological system is restored to “normal speed”.

For those interested in learning more about the project, Biostasis is offering a webinar on March 20 at 12:30 p.m. EDT.

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