Could a new way of using stem cells reverse death?

Could a new way of using stem cells reverse death?

According to a study expected to begin later this year, researchers hope to use stem cells in a new and highly controversial way: to reverse death .

Back to life

The procedure would involve injecting stem cells into the spinal cords of people who have declared themselves clinically brain dead, according to Ira Pastor , CEO of Bioquark , the laboratory behind this plan.

Subjects will also receive a mixture of injected proteins, electrical nerve stimulation, and laser therapy directed at the brain. Has anyone thought of Frankenstein?

The ultimate goal: to encourage new neurons to grow and stimulate them to connect with each other and thereby bring the dead brain back to life. A science fiction target?

For now, yes. The scientific literature, scant as it may be, seems to show that what Bioquark expects can not be done. This is not the first time the rehearsal has started. The study began in Rudrapur, India, in April 2016, but it never enrolled any patient, according to Pastor, although the truth is that the study was stopped .

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Controversial target

Now, Pastor has announced that the company is in the final stages of finding a new location to host its rehearsals.

If the protocol is the same as in the blocked trial in India, we will try to enroll 20 patients who will receive a different number of treatments. First is the injection of stem cells isolated from the individual’s own fat or blood. Second, a peptide formula injected into the spinal cord, supposedly to help nurture the growth of new neurons . Third, a regimen of nerve stimulation and laser therapy of more than 15 days to stimulate neurons to form connections.

But the process is fraught with thorny issues that make it unreliable. For example, how do investigators complete the paperwork for the trial when the person participating is legally dead? If the person regained brain activity, what kinds of functional abilities would he or she have? Are families getting hope for a lasting cure?

Neurologist Ariane Lewis and bioethicist Arthur Caplan wrote in a 2016 editorial about this essay, saying that it "has no scientific basis" and that it gives families "a cruel and false hope of recovery." Pastor also replied .

The truth is that the four treatments mentioned above still have this case support in the scientific literature. Stem cell injections into the brain or spinal cord have shown some positive results for children with brain injuries, but little else. In transcranial laser devices, the evidence is mixed: the approach has been shown to stimulate neuron growth in some animal studies, but it is not achieved in humans . The literature on electrical stimulation of the median nerve (which branches from the spinal cord down the arm and into the fingers) consists mainly of case studies, but if there is brain death it seems impossible that it could work.

At the moment, according to 38 articles published over 13 years , if the American Academy of Neurology guidelines for brain death are met, there is no evidence that a person with brain death has recovered brain function. Never. Still, Pastor continues to hope that his multiple treatment will offer interesting results. We will be attentive to the first scientifically proven resurrection . Until then, skepticism.