Scientists Are Giving Dead Brains New Life of a Sort

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What Could Go Wrong?

In experiments on pig organs, scientists at Yale made a discovery that could someday challenge our understanding of what it means to die,” Matthew Shaer, a writer at large for the N.Y. Times Magazine, reports in tomorrow’s cover story: Scientists Are Giving Dead Brains New Life.

In experiments on pig organs, scientists at Yale made a discovery that could someday challenge our understanding of what it means to die.

In recent years, some scientists have moved from the study of the organic tissue to the wholesale creation of artificial brain matter.

Grown from human stem cells reprogrammed to act like neurons, brain organoids, or ‘mini brains,’ can mimic some of the functions of their biological counterparts — last year, for example, the biologist Alysson Muotri announced that his lab at the University of California had grown brain organoids with neurons that fired at a level consistent with that of a preterm infant.

Muotri has said he hopes to use the creations to research brain function and formulate disease models without buying lab animals or expensive specimens from brain banks.

He says the brains can feel something but they are not aware of anything. He does suggest anesthetizing them.

It has an air of Frankenstein-ism but he’s only hoping to look for cures of diseases like schizophrenia and autism. Read the story here.

THEN THERE ARE THE HEAD TRANSPLANTS

There are others who want to perform head transplants. It looked like it was going to happen a few years ago.

Dr. Canavero said in an essay penned for Germany’s popular Bild newspaper: ”After proving in Korea that a spinal cord can be reconstructed allowing animals to walk again, and in China that a monkey head can survive detachment and reattachment, that dream is fast becoming a reality. The first studies on cadavers.”

But the doctor claims his plans have received consternation in his home continent. And he is looking to overcome this.

Russia and Germany are interested in letting him attempt his head transplant.

A Russian computer scientist Valery Spiridon is suffering from a muscle wasting disease. He wants to be Patient Zero for the spectacular operation.


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