Researchers have made a discovery that may take zombie-phobes one step closer to revising their zombie apocalypse escape strategies. Researchers have found stem cells in cadavers that survived for more than 17 days. The incredible discovery has some potential for medical applications – and some people are wondering if this is going to enter into the dorm room zombie conversations on campuses around the nation.
There are few cells more interesting to researchers than stem cells. These incredible genetic blocks of life are capable of adapting to a number of different circumstances in order to repair damaged tissue, build muscle, and are a key component in creating larger more complex organisms. And now thanks to a study on stem cells conducted at the Pasteur Institute in Paris by Fabrice Chretien and colleagues has determined that the cells actually have more of a lifespan after death than previously thought.
Originally cells were credited with being able to survive for up to two days after the death of larger organisms. In humans, it was previously expected two days was likely the upper limit of how long a stem cell could survive after death. Stem cells are often difficult to find in adults, particularly after death. But the researchers sifted through several cadavers that were kept at temperatures just above freezing and were able to determine that the cells had actually entered a dormant state.
As a result, their metabolic processes were lowered and the process required for the cells to survive was significantly slowed down. This dormant state offered the stem cells in question the necessary push to stay alive for several days more than they ordinarily would have. Currently researchers are looking into this discovery to potentially help other cells survive tissue damage, improve their viability in long-term preservation, and also tell us a few more things about these mysterious cells that help the construction of the human body.
Fortunately, it seems unlikely that a few stem cells throughout a body will be enough to power a zombie apocalypse, but the notion may have an influence on the zombie culture nonetheless. Authors hoping to provide increasingly powerful additions to the zombie mythos have drawn heavily on cutting edge medical research in the past leading all the way back to Mary Shelley’s understanding of the miracles of medically applied electricity in her classic Frankenstein.
On the other hand, one of the avenues researchers are particularly interested in is the use of a dormancy process to allow for ordinary cells to slow down their metabolic rate and slow aging or allow for long-term freezing during space missions in something similar to the cryogenic process used in Ridley Scott’s Alien series. And the potential applications don’t end there.