Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 6th 2016 Contents A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to
regenerate the brains of dead people has won approval
from some US health watchdogs.
A biotech company in the US has been granted
ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have
been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain
injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous
system can be brought back to life.
Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which
include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail
of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stim-
ulation techniques which have been shown to bring
patients out of comas.
The trial participants will have been certified dead
and only kept alive through life support. They will be
monitored for several months using brain imaging
equipment to look for signs of regeneration, particularly
in the upper spinal cord---the lowest region of the brain
stem which controls independent breathing and heart-
The team believes that the brain stem cells may be
able to erase their history and re-start life again, based
on their surrounding tissue---a process seen in the
animal kingdom in creatures like salamanders who can
regrow entire limbs.
Dr Ira Pastor, the CEO of Bioquark Inc, said: "This
represents the first trial of its kind and another step
towards the eventual reversal of death in our lifetime.
"We just received approval for our first 20 subjects
and we hope to start recruiting patients immediately
from this first site---we are working with the hospital
now to identify families where there may be a religious
or medical barrier to organ donation.
"To undertake such a complex initiative, we are
combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with
other existing medical devices typically used for stim-
ulation of the central nervous system, in patients with
other severe disorders of consciousness.
"We hope to see results within the first two to three
The ReAnima Project has just received approach
from an Institutional Review Board at the National
Institutes of Health in the US and in India, and the
team plans to start recruiting patients immediately.
The first stage, named "First In Human Neuro-
Regeneration & Neuro-Reanimation" will be a non-
randomised, single group proof of concept and will
take place at Anupam Hospital in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand
India. The peptides will be administered into the spinal
cord daily via a pump, with the stem cells given bi-
weekly, over the course of a six-week period.
Dr Pastor added: "It is a long term vision of ours
that a full recovery in such patients is a possibility,
although that is not the focus of this first study---but
it is a bridge to that eventuality."
Brain stem death is when a person no longer has
any brain stem functions, and has permanently lost
the potential for consciousness and the capacity to
A person is confirmed as being dead when their
brain stem function is permanently lost.
However, although brain dead humans are technically
no longer alive, their bodies can often still circulate
blood, digest food, excrete waste, balance hormones,
grow, sexually mature, heal wounds, spike a fever, and
gestate and deliver a baby.
Recent studies have also suggested that some electrical
activity and blood flow continues after brain cell death,
just not enough to allow for the whole body to func-
And while human beings lack substantial regenerative
capabilities in the central nervous system, many non-
human species, such as amphibians and certain fish,
can repair, regenerate and remodel substantial portions
of their brain and brain stem even after critical life-
Commenting on the trial, Dr Dean Burnett, a neu-
roscientist at the Cardiff University s Centre for Medical
Education said: "While there have been numerous
demonstrations in recent years that the human brain
and nervous system may not be as fixed and irreparable
as is typically assumed, the idea that brain death could
be easily reversed seems very far-fetched, given our
current abilities and understanding of neuroscience.
"Saving individual parts might be helpful but it s a
long way from resurrecting a whole working brain, in
a functional, undamaged state." (www.telegraph.co.uk)
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, May 6, 2016
Scientists believe a combination of therapies could stimulate regeneration of the brain
in patients declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury. TELEGRAPH PHOTO
Dead could be brought 'back to
life' in groundbreaking project
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