DNA Tissue Freezing Services
Cryopreservation of DNA/tissue can only be done by Lifetime and Yearly Members of the Cryonics Institute (CI). Yearly Members must have fully paid for no less than one year, ie, have paid $120 yearly dues plus $75 initiation fee for a full year's Membership.
CI provides a DNA sampling kit for hair, skin, and/or inner cheek samples from living persons or pets. Tissue samples may be extracted from a deceased person or pet by a funeral director or veterinarian, respectively. A CI Member may store DNA/tissue for any number of persons or pets at a cost of $98 per person or pet ($98 per kit). The DNA sampling kit consists of four 2-milliliter nalgene vials, swabs, instructions, tissue storage contracts and labels that can be placed on the vials, along with a mailing envelope. Each nalgene vial can be individually labeled for content. Each full kit is labeled, identified by a tissue storage contract and stored in liquid nitrogen at the Cryonics Institute.
Tissue samples need not be sent to CI in the DNA sampling kit. Any small vial or container can be used, and CI will transfer samples to nalgene vials for storage in liquid nitrogen. When tissue samples are taken from deceased pets or humans, skin that contains hair and hair roots will result in the most durable DNA. Some people prefer to store such samples in a refrigerator (packed in ice, but not in a freezer to avoid freezing) and shipped in ice, but dried unrefrigerated samples of skin with hair are very durable sources of DNA. (DNA has been extracted from Egyptian mummies.) The cost of DNA/tissue storage is $98 whether or not the Member uses CI's tissue storage kit. Members who want to store larger quantities of tissue should contact CI (e-mail, phone or mail) to ask about rates and terms.
CI Members wishing to store tissue/DNA at the Cryonics Institute will be sent two contracts: (1) Tissue Storage Agreement and (2) Designated Successor — Tissue Storage Agreement. The first contract is required for any Member wishing to store tissue/DNA at the Cryonics Institute. The first contract gives you ownership of the tissue/DNA, which you can reclaim at any time (at your expense). The second contract gives ownership to the tissue/DNA to one or more successors (in priority order) if you should die or deanimate and want someone else to have ownership of the tissue/DNA. The second contract is optional.
If your cryopreservation and reanimation proceeds without any problems, a DNA sample should be of little use. If you want your remains preserved under any circumstances and you are killed under circumstances that makes your remains hard to identify, a DNA sample could be useful to verify that the remains to be cryopreserved are really yours. Or you may simply want someone to be able to identify your remains so that there is no ambiguity or question about your identity when you are buried or cremated. Or if your body or the body of a loved-one is lost completely and you like the idea of a clone someday being constructed, the DNA could help. You may even want to save the DNA of your pet for possible future cloning. In some far-future scenarios it will be possible to reconstruct people from artifacts, such as the memories of you that are found in other people who have been reanimated and the physical records of your life, with DNA augmenting the process — although this is extreme science-fiction.
As long ago as 1965 it was shown that bacteria can be frozen in liquid nitrogen without cryoprotectant without suffering DNA damage [CRYOBIOLOGY; Ashwood-Smith,MJ; 2(1):39-43 (1965)] and mammalian DNA (from calf thymus) was shown to survive cryogenic freezing [NATURE; Shikama,K; 207:529-530 (1965)]. More recently DNA has been shown to survive liquid nitrogen freezing in a variety of mammalian tissues, and, in fact, epididymal sperm DNA was shown to survive 20 cycles of freezing-thawing without change [JOURNAL OF VETERINARY MEDICAL SCIENCE; Ohsako,S; 59(11):1085-1088 (1997)].
However, we want any reader thinking of using these services to be absolutely clear on certain points.
First : CI does not participate in, support, or assist in cloning. Members will make their own decisions regarding future use of tissue samples. At present human cloning is widely regarded as undesirable (and usually is illegal), but animal cloning (including cloning of pets) is not regarded with such disfavor. In November, 2008 healthy mice were cloned from lumps of frozen tissue taken from dead mice that had been frozen for 16 years [PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES (USA); 105(45):17318 (2008)]. The Cryonics Institute does NOT advocate human cloning.
Second: Cloning is not cryonics. The aim of cryonics is not to produce a look-alike of a person, but to save the actual life of that particular individual. We try to preserve a person's brain and nervous system because that is what preserves that person's memory and personality and individual awareness. If you want to save the life of a currently living individual — yourself or a spouse or child or parent or other family member — cloning will not do it. Cloning can only produce a twin — a human being extraordinarily like the person donating the tissue, someone who is the same in looks and capacities and even many aspects of personality, and indeed a person who is in fact a genuine individual that is worthy of life. But still, a different person — not the same person. If you want to save the life of yourself, your pet or someone you care about, cryonics is probably the only way that it might be done.
Packing of tissue samples in ice for shipment is usually not necessary, although it is required for whole bodies of patients and pets. (For much more detail about shipping, see Shipping of Deanimated Pets.) Extensive DNA analysis has been done on the 5,000-year-old remains of a man found in the Alps. DNA is probably best preserved skin and hair. The entire genome was sequenced from 4,000-year-old hair of a human recovered from permafrost in Greenland. For ancient specimens not preserved by cold, such as Egyptian mummies, DNA has been extracted from inside bone. For sampling purposes, DNA in cheek swabs should easily be stable long enough to be mailed at normal ambient temperatures.
You can send your payment by mail with check or money order enclosed to the Cryonics Institute, 24355 Sorrentino Court, Clinton Township MI 48035 USA (payable to the Cryonics Institute). We also accept credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) by phone or via PayPal. To pay with credit card by phone, call (586) 791-5961. To pay by PayPal, visit Paypal.com for more information. When making payments to the Cryonics Institute via Paypal, the address to pay to is CIHQ@aol.com
For clarification of instructions and other information, call the Cryonics Institute at (586) 791-5961 or send e-mail to CIHQ@aol.com . ALL e-mail must be in ENGLISH.