Scientists carry out head transplant on a RAT in controversial study

Scientists have given a rat a second head in a controversial procedure they hope will lead to the first human head transplant.

A team in China took the head of a small rat and fixed it on to the back of a larger animal.

The two-headed rat only lives for an average of 36 hours.

The team included controversial Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero, who plans to perform the first head transplant on a human later this year.

MORE: Holidaymakers facing £80 fines for feeding the seagulls
MORE: Orphaned piglets saved after being adopted by a LABRADOR

The study by Harbin Medical University in China was an attempt to graft the head of one animal on to another without causing damage to brain tissue.

Three rats were used in each procedure (Picture: CNS)
Three rats were used in each procedure (Picture: CNS)

The results were published in the CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics journal.

Three rats were used for each operation – a smaller donor rat and two larger animals, who were the recipient and the blood supply respectively.

In order to maintain the blood flow to the donor brain, the blood vessels of the smaller rat were connected to the veins of the second larger rat using a silicon tube.

After the head was transplanted on to the rat’s back, vascular grafts were used to connect the donor’s and recipient’s blood supply.

The study insisted there was no damage to the donor brain tissue as a result of blood less in the procedure.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

Researchers said the donor head was still able to blink and feel pain.

Business Insider reported that the two-headed rat was able to survive for about 36 hours on average.

Dr Canavero plans to perform a human head transplant later this year, in a bid to give people who have been paralysed from the neck down the chance to walk again.

In the procedure, the recipient’s head would be ‘frozen’ to stop brain cells from dying.