Human head transplants may now be possible using the latest advances in cell engineering,an Italian scientist has claimed.
The research on the complicated surgery could see results in just two years,said Dr Sergio Canavero,of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy.
In a project proposal published in the medical journal Surgical Neurology International,Canavero described his method for the ‘Head Anastomosis Venture’ – or HEAVEN.
The project would involve severing the heads of two human patients simultaneously using an ‘ultra-sharp blade’,cooling and flushing out the ‘recipient’ head before attaching its new body with an advanced polymer ‘glue’,’The Independent’ reported.
Canavero suggested that the realigning of head and body could also be achieved using ‘electrofusion’,in an approach not entirely unlike that used in Mary Shelley’s 18th Century novel ‘Frankenstein’.
The scientist has based his project on a similar experiment on Rhesus monkeys in the 1970s in which the patient survived for eight days.
In laying out what he said is “the groundwork for the first successful human head transplant”,Canavero admitted that his polymer gel reattachment method (known as GEMINI) would not be perfect.
However,he noted that “as little as 10 per cent of descending spinal tracts are sufficient for some voluntary control of locomotion in man.”
Canavero said that full and open research on the topic could bear fruit in just two years,and that the first patient should be someone young,with a fully-functioning brain,but suffering from “progressive muscular dystrophies or even several genetic and metabolic disorders”.
“HEAVEN appears to have grown into a feasible enterprise early in the 21st century,” he said but added that he has not considered the ethical implications of his proposal.