Patient from Russia, whose head is transplanted, will be trained to control the body using virtual reality
The Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero continues to prepare for the head transplant of the Russian programmer Valery Spiridonov , who turned 30 not so long ago. The specialist claims that the operation will take place within a year, not later. Now Canavero and his colleagues are honing their skills in mice and monkeys. According to him, the preparation is going well, and the operation will be completed on time.
Almost all his life Valery is deprived of the ability to move normally - he suffers from muscular atrophy. In his own words, the condition of the body is getting worse. Since he has no experience in controlling his body, Kanavero decided to train Spiridonov to control himself in a special virtual reality system.
By the way, only last year the operation became a fact - until this moment, the possibility of a head transplant from one person to another was discussed as hypothetical. The project was called HEAVEN / AHBR. Now Canavero is picking up colleagues, is exploring the possibility of an operation in China and some other countries, and is also working out all the necessary stages of the operation. It is already known that a Chinese surgeon will help him , who performed complex operations with mice, intentionally damaging their spinal cord and restoring it again.
Sergio Canavero performed several operations on mice, and also transplanted the head of a monkey. According to him, the operation was successful, although the animal had to be euthanized several hours later "for ethical reasons." A few months later, Canavero published the results of his work with the dog. This time the head was not transplanted; instead, the spine was cut. It is rightly believed that it is the complexity of the restoration of the nerve trunk of the spine that is one of the main obstacles to a full-fledged transplant.
Stages of dog recovery after surgery. (a) 10 days (b) 14 days © 17 days (d) 20 days, and (e) 24 days after surgery. (Source: C-Yoon Kim et al., 2016)
As before, Canavero claimsthat he injected polyethylene glycol at the site of the lesion of the spinal cord, which helps to restore connections between thousands of neurons. True, the operation itself was criticized by other surgeons. In their opinion, Canavero provided too little data about the operation. Also, experts note the absence of control groups during the experiment.
Dr. Hunt Batjer, president of the U.S. Association of Neurosurgeons, argues that a patient may experience something far worse than death. "Accession of the head to the other body (including the spinal cord, the circulatory system, etc.) can lead to madness unprecedented strength and quality," - vividly depict Batdzher possible consequences of transplantation.
At a conference last Friday, Canavero introduced a patient training system in a virtual reality environment. This event was attended by professional surgeons who heard information about the progress of the project on transplanting a human head. “The virtual system prepares the patient for a new world, which he will face, having received a new body. This is a world where he can walk, ”said Canavero.
Italian surgeon considersthat Russian scientists may want to take part in the preparation of the operation: “Now, scientists from all over the world have everything to independently verify the operability of the transplant method, which the author calls the“ GEMENI HEAVEN protocol ”. I’m sure that surgeons in Russia will be interested in these materials, as in a way to enter the race with China to implement all stages of the procedure. ” Most likely, during the operation they will use the drug perfluoran , developed by scientists of the Institute of Biological Physics of the USSR Academy of Sciences as a blood substitute. Perftoran, together with some other drugs, is used to supply the brain with oxygen. Russian experts believe that perftoran can extend the life of organs of the body by 4-5 times, compared with the "autonomous" mode.
The virtual reality training rig was developed by Inventum Bioengineering Technologies of Chicago. According to the creators of the system, it will help reduce the level of shock during the "transition" to a new body. Valery approved the implementation of the complex of simulations, saying that it is extremely important. According to the programmer, such a system is a key part of the entire project.
At the same conference, Canavero confirmed that he would conduct the operation next year. Most likely, this will happen at the end of 2017. The location of the operation has not yet been determined. Canavero had previously spoken about China, although now he is not opposed to an operation in the UK. “I have received so many positive reviews from the UK, from surgeons, that I think it makes sense to transfer the operation there. If so, then in Britain it is already worth starting a discussion of the ethical side of things, especially if you are prepared for the fact that this (operation - approx. Ed.) Will happen here. If the UK says no, it will happen elsewhere. But in Europe, it is Britain that looks the most promising place, ”said Canavero.
Virtual reality will be used to train Valery Spiridonov both before and after the operation.
It looks like the most accurate surgical knife in the world. Source: HEAVEN / GEMINI / Sergio Canavero
In addition to the new system for training patients in virtual reality, Canavero introduced a new type of scalpel. According to him, Professor Farid Amirush developed this "sharpest and most accurate in the world" surgical knife. He is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A scalpel may help separate the spinal cord from the brain with minimal damage.
Canavero said experts at Konkuk University in Seoul have confirmed the results of his experiments on transplanting a mouse head. According to Koreans, polyethylene glycol promotes splicing of nerve fibers. This opens up the possibility of a faster restoration of the motor functions of the body.