Biotech Company Given Permission To Reactivate Brains Of The Dead

An Institutional Review Board has granted ethical permission to a biotech company to conduct experiments on human test  subjects. Bioquark Inc. will spend the next year testing controversial therapies on 20 brain-dead patients in an attempt to restart brain function. This sounds like the premise of the next zombie movie.

Bioquark’s, ReAnima project will experiment with injecting the brain with stem cells, giving the patients spinal cord infusions of beneficial chemicals, and utilizing nerve stimulation techniques in an effort to bring about signs of neurological reactivation.

In order to qualify, participants must be medically certified as brain dead and only being kept alive by the efforts of life support machines. This type of brain death, where the loss of brain function includes complete loss of all involuntary action needed to sustain life, has been declared irreversible.

Bioquark’s protocol would allow them to mimic the regenerative capabilities present in non-human species (amphibians, planarians, and certain fish)  to restart and regrow neurons which would otherwise steadily degenerate.

“Through our study, we will gain unique insights into the state of human brain death, which will have important connections to future therapeutic development for other severe disorders of consciousness, such as coma, and the vegetative and minimally conscious states, as well as a range of degenerative CNS conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,” Bioquark Founder, President, and Chief Science Officer, Dr. Sergei Paylian said in a press release.

While the project has gained some support from members of American Academy of Neurology, notably Dr. Calixto Machado, who has spent 20 years researching brain death and altered consciousness, not everyone is convinced such reactivation is possible or likely.

In a report by the Telegraph, Dr Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist at the Cardiff University’s Centre for Medical Education said:

“While there have been numerous demonstrations in recent years that the human brain and nervous system may not be as fixed and irreparable as is typically assumed, the idea that brain death could be easily reversed seems very far-fetched, given our current abilities and understanding of neuroscience.

“Saving individual parts might be helpful but it’s a long way from resurrecting a whole working brain, in a functional, undamaged state.”

Regardless, trials will begin at Anupam Hospital in India. Now might be a good time to start prepping for the eventual zombie apocalypse if this thing takes off.

h/t IFLScience

Featured image by Amy Leonard via Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic