DEAD people who have been cryogenically frozen could be brought back to life within three years – by having their brains transplanted into in a new body, a pioneering neurosurgeon has claimed.
Professor Sergio Canavero is preparing to perform the world’s first successful head transplant this December and believes the first ever brain transplant is only a few years away from also becoming a reality.
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Prof Canavero, director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, said his team had made “massive progress” in experiments that “seemed impossible even as recently as a few months ago”.
In an interview with German magazine Ooom, he said: “We are currently planning the world’s first brain transplant, and I consider it realistic that we will be ready in three years at the latest.”
Despite the huge scientific and ethical implications of his work, Prof Canavero is pressing ahead with his ground-breaking plans, and has teamed up with Dr. Xiaoping Ren of China to carry out the world’s first head transplant later this year.
The operation will be carried out at Harbin Medical University, northern China, and the patient will be Chinese, Prof Canavero said.
The biggest barrier to a successful head transplant is reconnecting the brain to the severed spinal column, in order to control movement and sensation.
But Prof Canavero insisted: “This problem has now been solved.”
He said his team had successfully restored mobility to mice that had had their spinal chords entirely severed using a fluid called Texas-PEG.
He added that many controlled studies on different animals had been conducted in South Korea and China and that the results were “unambiguous”.
“The spinal cord – and with it the ability to move – can be entirely restored,” he said.
Plans to perform the world’s first brain transplant are already underway, the surgeon said.
Despite widespread scepticism in the scientific community, Prof Canavero said a brain transplant had “many advantages”.
He said: ”First, there is barely any immune reaction, which means the problem of rejection does not exist.
“The brain is, in a manner of speaking, a neutral organ.”
He said one problem was the brain would be hosted in an entirely different body, the impact of which remained to be seen.
Nevertheless, Prof Canavero said he hoped to bring back to life the first patients currently frozen at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona.
Should he succeed in resurrecting the dead, Prof Canavero said the implications would permanently alter mankind’s understanding of the world – and that religion “will be swept away forever”.
He said: “They (religous beliefs) will no longer be necessary, as humans will no longer need to be afraid of death.
“They will know as a scientific fact that our consciousness – or whatever it is – survives death. We no longer need a Catholic Church, no Judaism and no Islam because religions in general will be obsolete.”
By extension, the answer to the question “what is the meaning of life?” would also be redundant, the surgeon said.
“If we take hope out of life, out of the human equation, then what remains?,” Prof Canavero explained.