Who isn’t interested in new ways to apply stem cell therapy these days?
Speaking of, have you heard about the scientists in Philadelphia, PA, who have been injecting stem cells directly into the spinal cords of medically brain-dead people in order to revive them?
In a page taken from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the idea of “bringing people back from the dead” is a little too much like “playing God” for some critics to appreciate.
In March 2017, researchers at the biotech company, Bioquark, got approval to begin a clinical trial with 20 test patients to see if neural brain damage could be reversed.
The Bioquark website says the research and development organization is “a life sciences company developing proprietary combinatorial biologic products for both the regeneration and repair of human organs and tissues, as well as the reversion of a range of chronic degenerative diseases.”
Integrating regenerative biology, evolutionary genomics, and bio-cybernetics, the futurists are offering death-resisting treatments: “a set of novel bio-products capable of directly remodeling diseased, damaged, or aged tissues.”
These achievements alone sound pretty compelling. But toss in restoring brain function to a lifeless mind and the appeal goes ‘way up.
Bioquark got the federal nod t go ahead with their “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” study, slated to begin in July 2018. You’ll note there’s no mention of raising the dead at this point.
The study participants will not be injected with stem cells – that’s just the first step of this experimental treatment. Next, a peptide formula will be injected into the spinal cord. This is supposed to help new neurons grow. Finally, a 15-day course of nerve stimulation and laser therapy will be administered, to stimulate neurons to form connections.
The main diagnostic tool is the electroencephalogram (EEG) which measures brainwaves and records them for future review. EEG results will be used to determine if the therapy is working or not.
Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a type of traumatic brain injury. It happens when the brain suddenly and swiftly shifts inside the skull while an injury is happening. The axons (long connecting fibers) in the brain are sheared when the brain smacks against the skull and bounces back, accelerating and decelerating rapidly.
DAI commonly damages many parts of the brain, to the extent that DAI patients are typically in a coma state. The main symptom is loss of consciousness, which usually lasts no more than six hours or so. But even if a person comes out of a comatose state, there may be signs of brain damage such as:
- Disorientation or confusion
- Nausea or vomiting
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Trouble sleeping
- Sleeping longer than normal
- Loss of balance or dizziness
This multi-pronged treatment that combines injections of stem cells and chemical formulas with nerve stimulation is brand new and already attracting controversy. Some of the debate has nothing to do with morality or ethics. One question raised was: How do you sign up a study participant who has been pronounced legally dead? (Most U.S. state laws define death as the irreversible loss of heart and lung or brain function.)
If the researchers are successful in restoring brainwaves to an inactive mind, will the patient’s personality and memories be restored intact? Will the individual be in a mental condition comparable to what s/he had before the traumatic brain injury?
Dr. Ed Cooper, an orthopedic surgeon involved in the study, gave zero odds for success because the procedure must act on a functional brain stem which connects most of the motor neurons to the cerebral cortex.
But Ira Pastor, Bioquark’s CEO, agreed with his colleague Cooper in principle but gave hope for a positive outcome because there is a “small nest of cells” that continue to operate in brain-dead patients.
Pastor is nothing but an optimist about restoring brain activity in comatose or brain-damaged patients. “I just think it’s a matter of putting it all together and getting the right people and the right minds on it,” he said.
Dr. Charles Cox, a pediatric surgeon at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston who has researched the kind of stem cells used in the Bioquark trial, echoed Dr. Cooper’s reservations:
“I think [reviving someone] would technically be a miracle. I think the pope would technically call that a miracle.”