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’.
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.’