Head Transplant Surgeon Claims Human Brain Transplants Are ‘Technically Feasible’

Head Transplant Surgeon Claims Human Brain Transplants Are ‘Technically Feasible’

ABSTRACT breaks down impressive scientific research, future technology, breakthroughs and breakthroughs.

The human brain is an amazing piece of biological machinery responsible for everything from dreaming up Shakespeare’s sonnets to coordinating the muscles to score a World Cup-winning goal. However, even if our brains stay on into old age, our bodies often do not. What if we replaced them?

That’s the idea of ​​controversial neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero, who claims in a recent article that it may be “technically feasible” to reverse aging simply by removing a person’s brain and inserting it into a younger body and more agile. The article, called “Human Whole Brain Transplantation: Technically Feasible,” was published in Surgical Neurology International (SNI), a peer-reviewed journal where Canavero serves as editor.

If this procedure is ringing bells, it may be because Canavero floated a similar idea in 2015 that proposed a full head transplant. The claim was bombastic, highly controversial and, when he later said he had found a volunteer to undergo the procedure, made international news. It became such a sensation that it was part of a conspiracy theory related to Metal Gear Solid. Many doctors dismissed the procedure as not based on current science, and it has not been completed on a living human subject to date.

Canavero told Motherboard in an email that head transplants “work” and that his previous work was just a step toward a brain transplant.

“A human head transplant was the intermediate step towards brain transplantation. Since the latter is considered impossible, I decided to focus on HT [head transplant], which is much simpler,” Canavero said. “However, although I can tell you that HT works, unfortunately it does not regenerate old scalp tissue, including the eyes. BT [Brain transplant] it’s the only option.”

Canavero’s claims about head transplants have been difficult to verify. In 2017, SNI published work by Canavero and Chinese colleague Xiaoping Ren—who is also on the SNI editorial board—reporting a human cadaver head transplant trial. A living volunteer subject, a Russian man with a genetic degenerative muscle atrophy disease, withdrew from the planned procedure in 2019. Also that year, SNI published work by Canavero and Ren claiming to report successful marrow repair spine in animals.

Canavero told Motherboard that he is not at liberty “to talk about the HT project that unfolded in China, other than to say that it works.”

In his latest paper — which he and Ren co-edited — Canavero describes how to theoretically remove a person’s brain to place it in the skull of a clone or “immunoconditioned” donated, deceased body from the brain. In addition to describing a “robotic spoon with retractable loops” that would pluck brains from their skulls, Canavero also offers possible solutions to some outstanding questions about brain transplants, including neural and vascular reconnection methods.

“The unavailability of technologies that can successfully rejuvenate an aging body suggests that it is time to explore other options,” the paper notes. “Contrary to common knowledge, a complete BT is achievable, at least in theory. Of course, further extensive cadaveric trials will be needed, followed by tests in brain-dead organ donors (such as recently done in kidney xenotransplants). New surgical tools will have to be developed. With the right funding, a long-held dream can finally come true.”

The ultimate goal of such a procedure would be to extend the number of years a person can enjoy living in a “pristine body,” Canavero writes in his paper. This rationale is not dissimilar to that used by CRISPR advocates, who propose using the technology in embryos to remove unwanted genetics that could lead to physical or mental disabilities — a goal that some experts have flagged as a revival of eugenics.

Problematic or not, there is great interest in human life extension, and an entire branch of science and pseudoscience devoted to “transhumanism” and life extension, including among Silicon Valley’s elite. These methods include everything from taking specific substances to transfusions of “new blood”, cryogenics and attempts to recreate humans as immortal AIs. So far, these efforts have not involved transplanting the brain into a clone of oneself.

There are still big questions about whether what Canavero is proposing would ever work in a living human being (especially since part of the solution depends on developing human clones), but his claims are sure to continue to capture interest — and horror – the public.

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