PETA to Cryonics Leaders: Stop Freezing Dogs for Experiments

Bill Faloon at his Hollywood church.
Bill Faloon at his Hollywood church.
Deirdra Funcheon

In a cover story published two weeks ago, we described the empire run by longtime business partners Bill Faloon and Saul Kent, who have built up a multimillion-dollar dietary supplement business called Life Extension and who pump huge sums into projects and experiments related to extending human lifespans.

These efforts include running the Church of Perpetual Life in Hollywood and funding experiments related to cryonics — the idea that corpses might be someday brought back to life if stored at extremely cold temperatures. Some of the experiments are carried out on dogs —  giving the dogs heart attacks, replacing their blood with "vitrification fluid" that protects against ice damage, then freezing them and subsequently rewarming them. Researchers say that in addition to cryonics, the experiments could have implications for keeping organs viable for transplants. Life Extension has spent $110 million since 1996 on research projects, according to court documents. 

Life Extension has a retail store on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale and also has a mail-order arm. Faloon and Kent also run the Life Extension Foundation, which operated as a nonprofit organization until 2013, when the IRS revoked that status. The men are fighting in federal court to have the nonprofit status reinstated. 

Court papers explain that customers pay an annual $75 membership fee to get deep discounts on supplements and a subscription to Life Extension magazine, which extols the benefits of said supplements. Most of this money goes into the nonprofit, which in turn spends it on grants for research projects. The vast majority of the grant money goes to organizations controlled by Life Extension: Stasis, 21st Century Medicine, Suspended Animation, BioMarker, and Critical Care Research. Critical Care Research, and 21st Century Medicine perform experiments on animals in their California labs. 

In 2009, PETA spoke out against animals being used in cryonics experiments. That action was prompted by a tell-all book that had been written by an ex-employee of Alcor, one of three companies in the United States that stores bodies in liquid nitrogen in hopes they can be revived in the future. (Saul Kent is on the Board of Directors at Alcor.) 

Justin Goodman, director of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department, told New Times  in a statement:  

"Locking dogs and other animals in laboratories, draining them of their blood, infusing them with chemicals, freezing their bodies, and then trying to revive them sounds like a bizarre scenario out of a comic book, but unfortunately for animals, this is not science fiction. The animals subjected to Alcor's cruel cryonics experiments have endured seizures, paralysis, and pain and have even died, and the company even admits that the strange experiments are inapplicable to humans. It's time for Saul Kent and Bill Faloon to thaw their own cold hearts and stop conducting these inhumane cryonics experiments on animals." 

This document, filed in court papers, shows how Life Extension's grants are doled out. So far, $28 million has gone to 21st Century Research and $8 million to Critical Care Research.

This document details the dog experiments conducted by Critical Care Research, in Rancho Cucamonga, California. It says that the experiments are done on "mongrels" and have implications for the storage of donor hearts, resuscitation after deep hypothermia, and more. 

Experiments done at 21st Century Medicine in Fontana, California, include implanting human corneas in monkeys. Staff say NASA contacted them about using ice blockers they'd developed in fuel for shuttle launches. 

Last night, Alcor CEO Max More spoke at the Church of Perpetual Life. 


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