Human head transplant surgeon claims ‘breakthrough’ in rat experiment

Rob Waugh

A controversial surgeon who aims to carry out the world’s human head transplant claims to have had a breakthrough with a rat experiment.

Professor Sergio Canavero says that he has successfully repaired severed spinal cords in rats – a key step towards a successful transplant.

Neuroscientist Professor Canavero claims his technique – which he describes as the Gemini Protocol – ‘works across the board’.

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The team severed the spinal cords of rats, then treated them with polyethylene glycol to seal and repair damaged spinal cord nerve cells.

Within a month, the rats had recovered some movement – and two returned to a state that was ‘basically normal’.

Canavero claims that researchers led by Xiaoping Ren at Harbin Medical University have previously performed a head transplant on a monkey – connecting up the blood supply between the head and the new body.

They did not attempt to connect the spinal cord – but Canavero says that the experiment shows that if a monkey’s head is cooled to -15 °C it can survive the operation without brain injury.

Canavero has previously admitted, ‘The final goal is immortality.’

He says that there has aready been interest from ultra-rich patients seeking to extend their lives by grafting ageing heads onto fresh, young bodies.

Dr Canavero said last year, ‘You bet – there are a few funds working on prolonging life expectancy, and they are well-funded.’

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