A new trick could one day put humans into a hibernation-like state without all the frigid antics of an Austin Powers movie or an Arthur C. Clarke story. Using a natural chemical that humans and other animals produce in their bodies, scientists have for the first time induced hibernation in mammals, putting mice into a state similar to suspended animation for up to six hours and then bringing them back to normal life. The trick with the mice didn’t require freezing. Instead, the rodents breathed air laced with hydrogen sulfide, a chemical produced naturally in the bodies of humans and other animals. Within minutes, they stopped moving, and soon their cell functions approached total inactivity.
The results are detailed in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.