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Dormancy of cells and organisms-strategies for survival and preservation


Preserving ones body and reviving it in future generations is a dream of mankind. In fact, there are important practical uses for the preservation of cells, tissues, organs and organisms or for maintaining the gene pool. Many organisms have learned in evolution to enter dormant stages, often associated with desiccation, in which they survive for long periods and then reactivate within minutes or hours.

So far, we have failed to learn how cells, tissues or entire organisms can be made dormant or be effectively revived, at ambient temperatures. Attempting to learn that lesson is the vision of "SLEEPING BEAUTY".The objective is by learning from nature to develop novel concepts for cell preservation based on mechanisms with which model organisms tolerate desiccation and/or remain metabolically inactive for long periods. Studies aim at revealing the mechanisms that establish dormancy and resistance to desiccation, those that allow revival from dormant stages and the properties that make dormant stages stress tolerant. This will be achieved by studying five model organisms from diverse taxonomic phyla, using mainly modern tools of global gene expression profiling, proteomics and metabolic analyses. The results will guide further studies on the genetic regulation of these phenomena hopefully leading to sophisticated novel methods for cell and tissue preservation.

This is a multi-disciplinary project crossing the traditional boundaries of ecology, physiology, biochemistry, protein chemistry, developmental and molecular biology. The project is adventurous, novel and high-risk with potential long-term impact in biotechnology, medicine and ecology. It has a defined endpoint at which an assessment can be made on the possibilities to artificially make cells, tissues or organisms dormant at ambient temperature. The project is outside the scope of the Thematic Priority Areas 1 and 6, matching the flavour of the NEST Adventure activity.

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Hubert Humphreys, Tel Shikmona

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Participants (5)