The power of Hibernation

We use the protective mechanisms against cold, inactivity, starvation and asphyxiation to develop clinical applications for urgent, medical needs.


Sulfateq B.V. has developed a new class of chemicals (patent pending) and their applications, all in the field of cell preservation. In different animal models, these chemicals demonstrate their ability to be used for medical application. These applications are for a real medical need, servicing the blockbuster markets. All these chemicals emerged from the principles acquired in hibernation research.

In hibernation mammalian tissue and blood cells are protected against oxidative stress damage as the metabolism changes towards minimal need for oxygen and nutrition. It changes the metabolism and the tissue, the blood cells of hibernating animals can cool down to temperatures just above freezing point without cell damage or even loosing vitality.

TEDx talk about hibernation and human medicine

On November 20th last year, Prof. Dr. R.H. Henning from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, gave an interesting TEDx talk about hibernation and its importance for human medicine. TEDx Groningen just recently released the video of this inspiring talk ‘Is human hibernation possible?’

Sulfateq BV has a close working relationship with the University of Groningen, especially with Prof. Dr. R.H. Henning and his team, which led to the succesful development and synthesis of effective chemical compounds that can enhance protective processes for human cells and tissue; the so-called ‘SUL-compounds’.

Natural resistance against difficult circumstances

  • Bears and other species use the protective mechanism of hibernation.
  • Hibernation is nature’s solution for surviving harsh times.
  • Surviving through a period of low food supply and cold temperatures.

Interesting phenomenaHibernation Graphic

  • Mammal survives by minimizing energy need.
  • Low oxygen consumption and body temperature.
  • Long-term sufferings like hypothermia, starvation and disease susceptibility.
  • The animals have developed a suite of adaptations to protect mind and body.
  • No signs of severe damage to tissue or brain.

Development SUL-138 compound

As a result of a profound academic research of the phenomenon of hibernation of mammals in winter time Sulfateq has been able to use these great adaptations in nature for the benefit of medicine, known as biomimicry. In close collaboration with the University of Groningen chemical compounds such as SUL-138 have been identified and synthesised, Sulfateq has developed these compounds, which enable a phase of hibernation in human cells, cell lines and possibly in tissue as well. Other, similar compounds in the SUL series have properties, which enable organ preservation.

Sulfateq has brought this technology to a level where key aspects have been proven and the focused potentials must be further developed. Experiments done in several clinics and institutes already gave promising results for applications regarding organ preservation and drug development as well. We are currently in the development phase with the compounds. One compound has been used in the commercial available hypothermic preservation additive ROKEPIE®-FD01.

Thus far, SUL-138 has proven to increase mitochondrial respiration during stress, thereby allowing for faster recovery of ATP. This effect was observed in various cell culture models for oxidative stress and cooling-rewarming injury. Moreover, in an animal experiment employing a deep, whole body cooling in an anesthetized rat, the mixture of stereoisomer (the fully protect the kidney from cooling-rewarming induced organ damage). In this experiment, this mixture was administered via continuous intravenous infusion without any side-effects. As systemic biomarker for therapeutic efficacy of the SUL-138, the reduction in plasma ROS levels was used.

Using hibernation principles for preventing AKI

The main focus of SUL-138 is the prevention of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) during cardiac surgery. The incidence of postoperative AKI of patients undergoing cardiac surgery is 15-30%, with 1.5 million occurrences a year worldwide. Hence, AKI can therefore be considered a major health risk and medical need. There is currently no prophylaxis available which protects the kidney from injury during major surgery, nor are these available for other organ injuries. With the development of SUL-138 AKI can be prevented, which results in a great reduction in patient morbidity and decrease in hospitalization costs. Moreover, SUL-138 also has multiple applications in other therapeutic areas. To advance the clinical development of SUL-138, Sulfateq is seeking new investors.