April 28, 2017

Advances in Neuroscience

By Maximilian Wirth
Frozen brains could be woken up within the next few years

Hundreds of people have their brains and bodies preserved under sub-zero temperatures in the hope that science will advance to a point where doctors can bring them back to life and cure them from disease. What sounds like science fiction today, could become reality in the next few years. Professor Sergio Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, is about to carry out the first human head transplant on a Russian patient in the next months, who suffers from a muscle wasting condition. If the operation is successful, according to Canavero, brain transplants could follow soon. Professor Canavero is already assembling a team for the procedure, which could take place in the next few years. In an interview with the magazine Ooom he claimed: ‘A brain transplant may become reality in as little as three years. It has many advantages. There are practically no immune reactions or rejections. As soon as the first human head transplant has taken place, i.e., no later than in 2018, we will be able to attempt to reawaken the first frozen head.’

First artificial brain created in dish

As the Daily Mail reports, scientists have grown the first working ‘mini-brain’ from human stem cells. In the procedure, human skin cells are transformed into pluripotent stem cells, capable of becoming any part of the body. The result is like [the] 60-day old forebrain of a baby, which can be used to test drugs and conduct in depth studies on brain functions. The new technology could be used to develop treatments for epilepsy, Alzheimer, and autism. Even parts of the brain could be grown and then implanted into people with brain damage at some point.