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Brain/Head Transplant. The possibilities?





Aiz
Well, in one of my self-musing sessions, I was thinking, what's a way to keep someone's "being" after their body had called the quits? The only things came to mind was brain transplant into a new "host" or a full memory extraction and writing into a new brain. (Yes I was bored, Humor me)

So, I did some research on the web concerning that matter (yes I was really really bored) and came across brain transplant and head transplant. Brain transplant, apparently is just moving the brain into a new body while a head transplant is moving the whole head (argh the images...)

Apparently, there's not alot of scientific progress in that area. Apparently there was one scientist who managed to transplant a monkey head onto another monkey's body and keep it conscious and "alive"(as in able to taste, hear, and so forth) for several days. Basically he just managed to keep a blood circulation to the severed head. But that doesn't sound at all satisfactory to me >.>, you?

I am aware of all the ethical conflicts involved with this subject, as with a lot of advanced medicine. But as with a lot of the existing technology, it has the protentials to be beneficial.
I mean, it's just like artifical limbs and organ transplants, you just get a completely new body instead of just parts.

What are your thoughts on the possibilities of it happening?

(There didn't to appear to be a thread about this topic, but if there were, or if this is in the wrong forum, I apologize >_< it's the first new thread I've created, so I'm a bit nervous)
greenwoodmonkey
Aiz,

Welcome to posting your first post, no need to be nervous I'm sure the scientists won't bite...

Like you I have an over active mind when it comes to all things science, and wonder why those with the actual talents in the field haven't actually done already the thing I have thought of (see my threads on "Why Can't I : a thread about a self powered lamp that uses solar panels and "Science Fiction or Conspiracy Theory" : a liink about why stuff in movies haven't been done yet).....

I love your thoughts on the whole brain/head transplant thing... I myself have wondered about this and the implications....

The religious will always complain that the swapping of heads and brains is against God/Allah/Buddah et al.. while Science will always argue that it is evolution....

I am not religious so I won't comment... but for science I would ask ; is it really neccessary? With the population continually increasing at an unsustainable rate do we need to live longer than we already have, surely if you haven't achieved what you need to in your 70-80 years on the planet, are you going to if you get another chance? Also, if you die at 30 isn't that justlife saying "You weren't really doing anything and we needed the space"?

Plus there is the psychological issues.

The woman in France who last year let her dog eat her face a la Silence of the Lambs is said to have some pschological trauma after her new face was transplanted, so can you imagine what would happen if you woke from massive heart attack / whatever to find that you now had the body of a tonned, tanned and athletic 20 year old demi god, where your pale and wrinkled 70 year old body had once been?

Oh, actually your right.... I can see the benefits.... anyone got a scalpel and some thread?
Aiz
Well, I agree what you said about if you haven't accomplished what you needed to in a life time, another wouldn't be that useful.

Of course extending ones own life is a lovely thought too, but I agree that people's life span is pretty long as it is to do what they want. I was thinking more about people who had to die young due to something fatal (non-brain related of course). If there was another chance for them and there were means for them to do so, wouldn't that be nice? Since that's what the medical field is about, saving people.

Also my puppy's face was floating around in my head when I was thinking about this idea. Dogs/cats only live a bit over a dozen years, and thats assuming they don't catch something along the way. My own dog, ;_; I can't imagine what I'd feel when he dies. So I mean, instead of getting a new dog to replace him after he goes to doggy heaven, I thought it would be nice if we could just give him a new doggy body. I need a lamp to rub for 3 wishes...

But all that dreaming aside, I think we are still a long way from even getting close to be able to accomplish a true head transplant, much less a brain one. They are still having trouble repairing damaged spinal nerve tissues *sighs*. The thing is, how long?

(And oh, thanks for your welcome XD. Well scientists don't bite, but they can cut you up and....*shudders and runs for cover*)
ocalhoun
Little progress?
It's one of the things my organization is working on; but you've neglected another interesting facet of it; one could transplant between species.
Here's a link to that particular section of my site:
http://www.equinedream.org/methods/transplantation
HoboPelican
I don't know whether to laugh or be afraid! Laughing

I know almost nothing about this concept in the real world, but it seems to be only a matter of complexity these days. They are able to reattach limbs and have at least limited control of muscles (I think), so that implies the technique is there to make blood supply and neuron connections. The brain would just require a huge increase in process. We tend make that sort of progress over time. (A surgeon can't point out my errors, for me)

I'd imagine that the ethical issues would be more overwhelming than the operational ones. I myself cringed when you described the monkey experiment.

Another issue would be finding a healthy body without a functioning brain...not impossible, but I think there could be a long wait for a donor body...<shiver>

Maybe more likely a transplant to a mechanical host?

I'm waiting for this topic to be invaded by a discussion of souls.


@ Aiz - Don't you ever hesitate to create a subject! I have always enjoyed your posts and thought processes.
crimson_aria
I've heard about hemispherectomy, the removal of a part of the brain but I have never thought of brain transplant. Well, I did but yeah, in a joking manner thinking if I could exchange my brain for the brain of the smartest one in class. I didn't think about it more seriously. Now that you mentioned it, I'm getting interested. Brain transplant...geez... scary. The percent possibility of dying in the operation is like 100%. Hiks, I wonder if people would do that someday.
mephisto73
I once read a book where they put human brains in baboons and vice versa. It was quite hilarious. Anyway the prospect is intriguing. I believe we are 50 years from this type of transplant, but it will be done, I'm sure.

Almost everything else can be transplanted, so even if a magnitude more complex, head and brain will also be possible.
Aiz
ocalhoun wrote:
but you've neglected another interesting facet of it; one could transplant between species.

You are right o.o transplanting inter-species would be interesting, but I think that involves more technical and moral issues than just amongst the same specie. I mean finding an acceptable host for the brain without either rejecting the other is hard enough, but to mesh in the differences in species. o.o Ah too complicated *jumps off a cliff*

HoboPelican wrote:
Maybe more likely a transplant to a mechanical host?

Yeah XD I actually was favoring that line of thought. There were writings about using brain-deads and clones, but I think mechanical ones, if possible, would prove to be more...compatible and it would quiet a few moral issues. (You wouldn't be messing with another person's body. it's just like artificial limbs)

o.o Hey! you won't need to diet with a mechanical body! ...ok that was completely off but wouldn't it be nice? ;_;

*ahem* Back on track. It's true that there had been some repairs to damaged nerve tissues, but it really hasn't advanced to the point of complete recovery of totally severed ones. They are making progress, but not enough for this brain transplant thing to work well any time soon.

and HoboPelican thanks XD I just didn't want to pose any trouble for people by posting something already talked about in the wrong place ^^;v since just about everything has been talked about here XD

crimson_aria wrote:
The percent possibility of dying in the operation is like 100%. Hiks, I wonder if people would do that someday.

Quite true. But think about those who are sure to die anyway. If it gives them even .1% chance of living to see another day, I think they'd want to take it right? It was the same with alot of the new techs of the old days. Other organ transplants and so on.
HoboPelican
Aiz wrote:
......
*ahem* Back on track. It's true that there had been some repairs to damaged nerve tissues, but it really hasn't advanced to the point of complete recovery of totally severed ones. They are making progress, but not enough for this brain transplant thing to work well any time soon.


That got me curious and I did a few minutes searching. Something I found indicates that currently an average of 50% functional success rate is being achieved in replantation. That's 50% motion and 50% strength...sounds promising. Short clip below. The 2 point descrimination I assume refers to the distance at which the patient can feel 2 separate points on the skin which indicates a reasonable sense of touch. The URL points to the article, but it gets somewhat technical.

Progress is being made!

Quote:
In general, approximately 50% achieve 2-point discrimination (2 PD) of less than 10 mm (Gelberman, 1978; Poppen, 1979; Yamauchi, 1983; Tark, 1989; Zumiotti, 1994). Of Tamai's 228 replants, 70% achieved 2 PD of less than 15 mm, while 65% of Larsen's 142 replants attained 2 PD of less than 10 mm (Gelberman, 1978; Tamai, 1978). In general, younger patients with distal guillotine amputations experienced better return of sensation. Studies have determined the average replant to achieve 50% of normal function, ie, 50% total active motion and 50% grip strength (Matsuda, 1978; Scott, 1981; Wei, 1988; Tark, 1989).


http://www.emedicine.com/plastic/topic536.htm
DawningLight
The people here at Alcor must believe its going to be possible, if you look here http://www.alcor.org/cryomyths.html#myth6 you will see how they explain and justify there head preservation. The whole of the site is worth a read through, Though I find it hard to believe people spend so much money on this.
Reaper
I suppose it makes sense, if we can transplant organs like the heart, kidenys, lungs and even whole hands then it would make sense that you could possibly transplant brains.
I can already see the uses of transplanting brains, like putting someone who's actually smarter then our current president in his body for instance Twisted Evil
Using it to live even longer then you usually do probably wouldn't work, your body would be young of course but your mind on the other hand would still be old and would age accordingly would it not? So i'm sure you would still die of old age even if your current body was only say 28 years old. But still it would probably allow you to live a few years longer, so i'm sure there are some benifits.
Daryl Days
Dr. Robert J. White, now retired, from Cleveland, Ohio has already performed countless successful head transfer experiments on monkeys, and has perfected methods by which the human brain can be isolated from its blood supply for an hour or so. With the recent breakthroughs in spinal cord research, brain transplants may now be possible.

Just as scientists started to make discoveries regarding spinal cord regeneration, another surgeon, a Dr. Tom Burke wrote this:

"I wonder, with an almost tenuous whisper, will we ever transplant the brain? The brain sits in our skull casing and its plug-ins are actually quite few: 12 pairs of large nerves, a few large vessels for blood supply and the spinal cord. Stop and consider for a moment how brain spinal cord repairs or perhaps even brain transplants would transform humanity.
...
A brain transplant has an intriguing sound. How near to immortality does this take us? But, at what cost? Imagine i f the person most close to you had advanced cancer but his or her brain was still OK? And then, suddenly, a body became available for transplant: A body whose brain had died. What if the body was much younger or older? What if the gender was different? Who would this new person be? Marriage, family and ownership?"

['Repairing a severed spinal cord
Notes from the ER', July 10, 2006]

[Dr. Robert J. White and head transplants]
http://www.clevescene.com/issues/1999-12-09/putre.html
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/david.bennun/interviews/drwhite.html
http://64.78.63.75/samples/05PYS0404PlotnikIntrotoPsych7ch3.pdf (pg 64)
http://www.ebookmall.com/ebook/66923-ebook.htm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/reports/archive/science_nature/brain.shtml
http://linguafranca.mirror.theinfo.org/9708/fn.9708.html
http://www2.lakelandcc.edu/nora/events/iuser/news/newsmore.asp?ID=917
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9A01EEDE1F3EF936A35756C0A96E958260
[Spinal Cord regeneration]
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,200445,00.html
http://www.london-student.net/content/view/406/29/
http://www.bestsyndication.com/Articles/2006/dan_wilson/health/06/062106_stem_cells_john_hopkins_research_spinal_cord_injuries.htm
http://www.emaxhealth.com/45/7075.html
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/521573/
http://www.swissinfo.org/eng/front/detail/Swiss_make_breakthrough_in_spinal_research.html?siteSect=105&sid=6876510&cKey=1152254829000
Is the brain an immunologically privileged place? I found this (published in 2000):
"The discovery that immune system proteins play a role in the activity-dependent remodeling of the brain overturns a long-cherished dogma. For years, the brain was thought to be an immunologically privileged place—free from the immune system policing that occurs everywhere else in the body. Although neuroscientists have recently found evidence that the brain is subject to immune surveillance, few suspected that the brain produces its own immune molecules."

Don't know what to make of its implications for a brain transplant...so the brain makes its OWN immune molecules...I have come across articles published in 2005 that continue to refer to the brain as an "immunologically privileged place"...maybe the 2000 discovery does not make a difference?

Here is something more (from 2004):

"The CNS is an immunoprivileged site based on the presence of the blood-brain barrier (BBB),3 graft acceptance, lack of conventional lymphatics, low T cell trafficking, and low MHC class II _expression (1). However, it is clear that brain-derived Ags can induce strong systemic immune responses that either protect against cerebral infections or cause inflammatory brain diseases"

There's a new discovery that may help, in light of the fact that the brain has been found to not be much of an "immunologically privileged" site: essentially the donor's bone marrow is transplanted along with his kidney, in order to help "the recipient develop a compatible immune system." I'm posting it:

Voice of America
Organ Transplants Without Life on Medication
By Peter Fedynsky
Washington, DC
01 August 2006

http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-08-01-voa31.cfm

The new lease-on-life enjoyed by organ transplant recipients comes with a price: patients must take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. But a promising new procedure could eliminate the need for lifelong medication.

South Africa's Louis Washkansky was the world's first heart transplant patient. He died of pneumonia 18 days after his operation in December 1967, because drugs used to prevent organ rejection also suppressed his body's ability to fight infection.

Organ transplants did not become routine until the 1980s with the approval of a new drug, cyclosporine, which prevented rejection without destroying the body's resistance to infection. But anti-rejection medications have had serious side effects and must be taken for life.

Today, Christopher McMahon takes no medications -- four years after his kidney transplant.

"It's been just a blessing. I love not having to get up in the morning to have my daily regimen of medicine," he says.

Eliminating the daily dose of medications involves transplanting not only the kidney, but also the donor's bone marrow, which helps the recipient develop a compatible immune system.

Dr. David Sachs is a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. "We essentially fool the immune system into thinking the donor's organ is part of one's own body."

The patient, however, must first undergo radiation and chemotherapy to weaken the original immune system -- an exhausting experience.

"It was obviously a tough and difficult process,” says McMahon, “but the rewards were so great it kept me going."

Jennifer Searl is another one of ten kidney transplant patients to successfully undergo the new procedure. "How I'd like to describe a conventional transplant, I say it's a treatment not a cure. And I feel like this is a cure."

This new procedure is currently used only for kidney transplants. But doctors say it could eventually be applied to other organ recipients.

Here's a way by which they will be able to re-attach severed cranial nerves:

Nanofiber Scaffold Supports Optic Nerve Regrowth [June 2006]

http://www.devicelink.com/mddi/archive/06/06/018.html

Using nanosized peptides, a team of researchers has built knitted scaffolds that may be used to regrow damaged optic nerves. The team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, MA), has managed to restore limited sight to blinded hamsters using nanoparticles resembling small fibers.

To conduct the experiment, the researchers cut the neural pathway that enables vision in hamsters. They then injected 16 of 47 adult hamsters with a solution containing nanofibers. The material was injected into the gap within an hour of the pathway being cut. After the first 24 hours, the researchers noted that the gap was reduced and that axons seemed to have grown through the center of the cut.

When tested, three-quarters of those hamsters could function well enough to identify a food source. None of the 31 hamsters that did not receive the nanosolution regained sight.

According to the lead researcher, Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, the technique offers a possible method for repairing neural connections. When neural pathways in the brain or spinal cord are damaged, they don’t usually heal. The damage can result in lifelong brain damage and paralysis.

When a neuron is cut, he says, it sprouts a growth tip, much like a tree whose branch has been cut. After that initial step, however, the growth stalls and scientists are not sure why. Axons can be encouraged to extend by exposing them to growth factors. But they rarely extend far enough to bridge the large gaps typical of most optic nerve injuries, he says.

Ellis-Behnke believes that the nanoparticles may block signals that trigger an immune response. Alternatively, he speculates that perhaps the nanoparticles coat the growing tip of the neuron, blocking any signals that tell the axons not to grow.

Gerald Schneider, one of the team members, estimates that 30,000 axons reconnected in the hamsters, compared with only around 30 in previous experiments using other approaches, such as nerve growth factors. The nanoscaffold is similar in size and shape to sugars and proteins. The team believes that the similarity between the size of the fibers and the features on neural material is what encourages the axons to bridge the gap. The scaffold is biodegradable and appears to eventually break down harmlessly.

And while the results are promising, Schneider explains that the technology is not necessarily a cure-all. “It will not replace neurons that have been destroyed. The axons are slow to grow. We have used the method only for situations in which they have to grow very short distances to get some recovery of functions.”

Schneider says that the scaffold could be included as one of many therapies, such as stem cells or growth factors, to help regenerate nerve connections in people who suffer strokes, spinal cord damage, and brain injuries. “We expect that the method will have to be combined with other treatments in some situations. In humans it will probably be used first in surgery on the brain and spinal cord,” he says.

Still, the scientific community is encouraged by the work at MIT. The knitting “could be very useful in combination with other treatments,” says Wolfram Tetzlaff, associate director of discovery science at the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries in British Columbia, which focuses on spinal cord injuries.

Tetzlaff cautions, however, that the hamster work involved a clean knife cut across the optic nerve, and “this is not how injuries typically present themselves.” Neural connections torn by a stroke or a car accident, for example, tend to be much messier and thus harder to bridge.

The MIT team has plans to explore whether the nanomaterial can be helpful long after the nerve damage has occurred. It may be useful to people who already suffer from spinal cord or brain damage.

Schneider also says that it will be several years before the technique is ready for human experiments. “We think the method could be used within five years in humans if there is sufficient support for doing the necessary research, which will have to include larger animals.”

The research paper was presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Research was supported by grants from the Whitaker Foundation and from the Deshpande Center at MIT, and by the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong.
freeedy
It certainly could be a great achievement for medical purposes, giving new bodies to does that have lose their mobility and who are handicap, or thise that have losen legs and arms. However, I am one of those persons that think that life has to be finite, because if we "solve" the end of life, it will lose its meaning. Life wont be life anymore, it will lose its value.

Besides, this kind of scientific advances are very dangerous. Just imagine what will happen if some rich narc or mobster transplant his brain into a new body. the justice will never be able to catch them.
Nitro15
While this is an interesting subject, and I have thought about it quite often, it would just be a bit awkward seeing someone with the exact same memories as someone else. I believe this type of transplanting would be completely immoral. While transplanting organs and other extremities, head/brain transplanting is just too far.
aneotoena
Reaper wrote:
I suppose it makes sense, if we can transplant organs like the heart, kidenys, lungs and even whole hands then it would make sense that you could possibly transplant brains.
I can already see the uses of transplanting brains, like putting someone who's actually smarter then our current president in his body for instance Twisted Evil
Using it to live even longer then you usually do probably wouldn't work, your body would be young of course but your mind on the other hand would still be old and would age accordingly would it not? So i'm sure you would still die of old age even if your current body was only say 28 years old. But still it would probably allow you to live a few years longer, so i'm sure there are some benifits.


Sorry to tell ya brain is not like the other organs, and that is because spinal cord compatibility and regeneration capabilities.

Professor Robert White made his expermiment decades ago and he appeared to believe brain transplant was just a matter of keeping blood stream.

We may indeed transplant a brain to a body with a spinal cord fully compatible but it's incredibly difficult to find one.
y06hci0088
i think that brain transplant is not possible as the brain is the central of all nerves and is th control center of the whole body, if one separate the brain from its own environment...(the body), it will surely be very hard to replace it with another brain, in the transplant there is always risk undertaking for the organ may not be accept by the body...

other than that, if the brain is removed, that means the control of the body is taken, does anyone think it is possible to cause break down in other part of the body and organ as nobody is controlling, or is every organ independent ??? (still can function without brain)....

also morally it is not very good and i doubt that even if such technology exist, it will be accepted by the public in the same case as cloning.....

anyway, is it necessary...when one person switch brain with another, the conscious of let's say : Mr. A have the conscious of Mr. B...., and if it involves different sex..., the effect and result will be disastrous...

how is one going to know if Mr. A is Mr. A as one cannot read the conscious of somebody else...one can only differentiate one another by appearance....

lot's of problem will occurred !! conclusion: such technology is unnecessary.... Twisted Evil why don't a person solve problem instead of creating one !!
odinsrealm
i think the merger between man and machine will come in time, we already see attempt to replace limbs with machines and as technology and or understanding increases so will the use of such techniques, i think a total body transplant is unlikely in the future but who knows..
Aiz
freeedy wrote:
Besides, this kind of scientific advances are very dangerous. Just imagine what will happen if some rich narc or mobster transplant his brain into a new body. the justice will never be able to catch them.


o.o True, but can't they do that already with plastic surgery? XD Humans have been abusing all forms of technology throughout history anyway.

I just thought it would be intriguing, if and how it could be done.

And oh, it wouldn't really "solve"the problem if death since the brain itself ages and dies as well, sometimes even before the flesh does. it might just be useful in providing a "second chance" for those whose bodies got totally trashed in some form of accident or what not.
ninacax
I don't know if it will be possible one day but I wish they could test it in some people that don't deserve having a head.
codegeek
I think another problem would be, where would one find a headless live body..i.e, with a functioning heart, liver, kidneys, lungs etc., to transplant the head on? One could argue that science could freeze the body of dead people to use later, like in other organ transplants. However, there is certainly a limit to how long it can be stored before becoming unusable.

Another issue would be who gets a head transplant and who doesn't. On what basis would one be considered eligible to get a head transplant, when there is certainly someone who didn't get a transplant (since the healthy body to transplant the head on has to belong to somebody.) Will it be based on who has the cash for it and who doesn't. Because, in my view, crazy old immortal guys is exactly what the world doesn't need. Perhaps it will be based on something like "contribution to mankind". But then, this is a pretty wide topic and would have to include everyone from Albert Einstein(i.e, if he were alive) to popular rock stars. If so, isn't it like playing God performing natural selection in a manual and much grosser way?
tyler87898
It would be really weird if someone just took someone's brain. The person would act like the same person they were before, but in a different body, is what I'm guessing.
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