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DARPA project seeks immortality, suspended animation

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is offering money to researchers looking at identifying and controlling timing mechanisms in cells, including those of the human body.

The blue sky gazing loon-collective notes that no single "master switch" has been found to control genes' activities.

But it hopes that the "Biochronicity" programme will find a way to understand and predict "temporal features of biological systems".

The four-year programme will start by identifying "episequences and validation in experimental biological systems".

After two years, DARPA hopes to move to Phase II, which aims to conduct Live Fire Tests.

Should the research prove practicable, it could be used to put injured soldiers into effective suspended animation until medical care is available:

These fundamental advancements in the understanding of timing in biology can be translated into major breakthroughs in trauma care on the battlefield by accessing the mechanisms that control biological time to improve patient outcomes, for example, by lengthening the window of opportunity for medical and treatment interventions.

It could also make it possible to put astronauts into hibernation before firing them at Mars or other planets, or even - perhaps - to offer hugely extended human lifespan:

Additionally, a greater understanding of molecular oscillators and the evolution of biological clocks will lead to fundamental advancements in developmental science, drug development, aging, and cell death.

Full details are available in pdf here. ®

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