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Military Transcendentalism: DARPA Wants to Slow Biological Time

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The secretive agency tasked by the Pentagon with creating new technologies, weapons and other systems for US warfighters is conducting research on ways to help save wounded service members “by going after time itself.”

According to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), by slowing down every biological process in the body following an acute traumatic injury, it may be possible to extend how long a person lives.

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DARPA's Biostasis program "will leverage molecular biology to develop new ways of controlling the speed at which living systems operate and thus extend the window of time following a damaging event before a system collapses," the agency said in a March 1 news release.

The first hour after a major injury is called the "golden hour" because the first treatment after injury "is usually the most significant factor in determining the outcome between saving a life or not." If first responders do not act quickly enough, their severely wounded patients can die or sustain permanent disabilities.

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"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," Tristan McClure-Begley, program manager for Biostasis, said in a news release.

McClure-Begley said that nature was a "source of inspiration" in thinking about the project. "Creatures such as tardigrades and wood frogs exhibit a capability known as ‘cryptobiosis,' a state where all metabolic processes appear to have stopped, yet life persists… [Wood frogs] can survive being frozen completely solid for days on end," DARPA said.

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