Bioquark, a biotechnology company based in Philadelphia, will begin experimenting bringing brain-dead patients back to life. The Institutional Review Board has granted the company begin trials on 20 patients who have been clinically declared dead from a traumatic brain injury.
The company's scientists will employ a variety of methods to try and stimulate brain regeneration, including injecting stem cells into the the grey matter with a mixture of peptides. They'll also plan to experiment with lasers and nerve stimulation techniques, which have brought patients out of comas in the past.
Don't get too excited yet, as these yet to be performed trials are just the first step towards reviving patients. "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," said Bioquark CEO Dr. Ira Pastor.
Other scientists are also tempering enthusiasm for bringing back the clinically brain dead. Dr. Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist at the Cardiff University's Center 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."
Far fetched as it may seem, there are animals that have the ability to regenerate their nervous systems. Some amphibians and fish can regenerate and remodel portions of their brains and brainstems after life-threatening injuries.
Beyond bringing back brain-dead patients, Bioquark hopes its research will help shine light on other disorders of consciousness like comas, vegetative and minimally conscious states, and other degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
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