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Posted on: August 7, 2019 at 8:12 pm
Last updated: August 8, 2019 at 10:24 pm

It is sometimes frightening how well classic fiction predicts the future. For instance, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury described earbuds well before they were ever developed.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is another terrifying example. In the book, Dr. Frankenstein experimented with resuscitation using dead tissue reanimation, a treatment that was experimented with by real scientists in the 1800s.

Recently, researchers are once again looking for ways to reverse death, and they may have found the solution.

A New Trial May Bring the Dead Back to Life: The ReAnima Project

For this study, the researchers will use stem cells as a “reset button” for the body to erase cell damage and stimulate tissue regeneration. According to those involved, the research may lead to “complex tissue and organ regeneration, disease reversion, and even biological age reversal.” 

The trial will be run by Indian specialist Dr. Himanshi Bansal and biotech companies called Revita Life Sciences [1] and Bioquark Inc. [2]

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Twenty patients are the subjects of this study. They are all braindead, which is considered clinical death, and are only kept alive through life support. The test will involve injecting brain stem cells and peptides into their brains bi-weekly over six weeks and a series of other treatments including lasers and nerve stimulation techniques, which have brought patients out of comas in the past. 

The researchers believe the stem cells will follow a similar process salamander cells use to regrow limbs, that is, differentiating into functional brain cells.

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The patients will be monitored for several months through brain imaging equipment for signs of regeneration, especially in the upper spinal cord where the brain stem controls breathing and the heartbeat. [3]

“This represents the first trial of its kind and another step towards the eventual reversal of death in our lifetime,” said Dr. Ira Pastor, the CEO of Bioquark. “To undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of the central nervous system in patients with other severe disorders of consciousness. 

“We hope to see results within the first two to three months.”

The initial stage is called ‘First in Human Neuro-Regeneration & Neuro-Reanimation,’ and will take place at the Anupam Hospital in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand India. 

Since this first stage has small and non-random sample size, it’s more a of a proof-of-concept than a conclusive study.

Dr. Bansal claimed to have some previous success with two patients in the Gulf and Europe. 

“They are still in a minimal conscious state but who knows that they may come out and have reasonable conscious useful human life.”

Dr. Pastor added, “It is a long-term vision of ours that a full recovery in such patients is a possibility, although that is not the focus of this first study – but it is a bridge to that eventuality.” [4]

The trial was estimated to begin in July 2019 and end in July 2021.

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What is Considered “Braindead”?

The diagnosis of “braindead” comes when a person loses all brain stem function, including breathing, and the potential for consciousness. However, braindead patients may still have other perfectly functional systems. For example, their bodies can still digest food, excrete waste, circulate blood, balance hormones, age, sexually mature, spike a fever, heal wounds, and deliver a baby.

Some studies show that some electrical activity and blood flow continues in the brain after becoming braindead, but not enough to allow the entire body to function. [5]

Opposition to the Trial

Some scientists are doubtful this trial would lead to any sort of recovery for braindead patients. Previous studies have found that people’s capabilities for regeneration is rather limited.

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.”

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

A letter published in the journal Critical Care summarized these thoughts: “the trial borders on quackery. 

Dead means dead.” [6]

How Regeneration Can Affect Other Diseases

Even if this project doesn’t successfully ‘bring back the dead,’ it may be useful to further understanding of the braindead state and possibly innovate the treatment for neurological diseases.

“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,” said Dr. Sergei Paylian, Founder, President, and Chief Science Officer of Bioquark. [7]

According to Dr. Bansal: “This will open the door for future research and especially for people who lose their dear ones suddenly.”

  1. Revita Life Sciences https://www.indiamart.com/revita-life-sciences/aboutus.html
  2. Bioquark Inc. http://www.bioquark.com/ 
  3. Non-randomized, Open-labeled, Interventional, Single Group, Proof of Concept Study With Multi-modality Approach in Cases of Brain Death Due to Traumatic Brain Injury Having Diffuse Axonal Injury https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02742857 January 15, 2019
  4. Sarah Knapton. Dead could be brought ‘back to life’ in groundbreaking project https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/05/03/dead-could-be-brought-back-to-life-in-groundbreaking-project/ May 3, 2016
  5. Ajay Kumar Goila and Mridula Pawar. The diagnosis of brain death https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2772257/ 
  6. Ariane Lewis and Arthur Caplan. Response to a trial on reversal of Death by Neurologic Criteria https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5118884/ November 22, 2016[7] Janey Tracey. New Clinical Trial Will Attempt to Bring Dead Humans Back to Lifehttps://www.outerplaces.com/science/item/12029-new-clinical-trial-will-attempt-to-bring-dead-humans-back-to-life May 3, 2016
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Sarah Biren
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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