Death To...Death? Science Aims To Use Stimuli, Lasers, And Stem Cells To Rip Off The Grim Reaper


To those of you who don't harbor a nigh-unquenchable thirst for the void, the subject of using modern technology and medicine to "reanimate" the human brain after death is a tempting one.  While death has long been looked upon as a very definite end to existence (or at least the road to reincarnation in another), now, some serious initiatives are underway to change that...

Someday, you might be able to reboot your whole existence.
If you're into that sort of thing.
(Image courtesy assi5.rsssing.com.)



According to the Daily Mail, a new project called ReAnima aims to assess the technical feasibility of expanding human lifespans via kickstarting your neurons.  The project's stated mission involves "exploring the potential of cutting-edge biomedical technology for human neuro-regeneration and neuro-reanimation."

The project assesses those who are "brain dead" by medical standards, which in the past has been basically a condemnation to continue existence no further.  By examining coma patients and others who fit the Uniform Determination of Death Act criteria (but whose physical forms are still kept alive via various life-support mechanisms), the team intends to first focus on methods of neuro-regeneration that could stimulate cells to grow and thrive anew.

Hopefully it'll work on skin cells, too.
Can't have your nice shiny new brain rolling around in a zombified corporeal ride.
(Image courtesy weknowyourdreamz.com.)

Using MRI scanners, the ReAnima team will assess brain-dead individuals for a glimmer of possibility that brain death could be reversed, and will use "peptides, lasers, stem cells and median nerve stimulation" to try to coerce the cells back to this mortal coil.  The target area would involve the upper spine and lower brain stem, which if repaired could regenerate autonomous breathing and heartbeat.

Median nerve stimulation involves using technological means to stimulate various pathways in the brain, which can then cause a comatose brain to "wake up" thanks to an infusion of dopamine.


And this is what it feels like.
(Image courtesy science-junkie.tumblr.com.)

Of course, with such a serious claim as being able to defy death, not everyone is convinced.

'It's true some brain areas may be more durable, or have a more reliable blood supply, but a person, despite the myth, needs all of their brain working. It's not just the brain cells that are important, it's the incredibly intricate ways they're connected to many other areas," explained Dr Dean Burnett, neuroscientist at the Cardiff University Centre For Medical Education.

"Saving individual parts might be helpful but it's a long way from resurrecting a whole working brain, in a functional, undamaged state. There's been nothing to suggest we're even close to that point yet."

So, don't go out playing motorcycle polo without a helmet just yet, friends.  But keep a few brain cells aware that they may have a literal whole new life in store for them in the future, provided the right cocktail of science and stem cells can intervene.  Keep your wits about you...and even if you can't, they might just be brought back by science!

Maybe in your second iteration of existence you'll write that million-dollar novel.
Sorry, there's no stem cells that can program that in...yet.
(Image courtesy biology.about.com.)


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