New Stem Cell Study Plans to Bring Dead People Back to Life
A couple of decades ago, there were some things that science knew it simply couldn't cure—terminal disease and death itself chief among them.
How far we have come. Now Philadelphia-based company Bioquark Inc. thinks it's found a way to reanimate brains in newly deceased patients through a combination of stem cells and other therapy.
Bioquark's proposed study, set to begin in South America later this year, will attempt to stir up electrical activity in the brains of 20 brain-dead subjects. The company plans to accomplish this by delivering stem cells to the brain that will grow into new brain cells with the help of electrical nerve stimulation, laser therapy, and a nurturing peptide concoction.
"It's our contention that there's no single magic bullet for this, so to start with a single magic bullet makes no sense. Hence, we have to take a different approach," Ira Pastor, CEO of Bioquark, said in statement last year. "With the convergence of the disciplines of regenerative biology, cognitive neuroscience and clinical resuscitation, we are poised to delve into an area of scientific understanding previously inaccessible with existing technologies."
Much of the scientific community is not yet on board with Bioquark's mission, however, stating numerous scientific and ethical concerns.
"Unfortunately, this study has no scientific foundation," wrote Ariane Lewis and Arthur Caplan when news of the trial first broke. "Biomedical science is based upon a quest for knowledge through observation and experimentation. Bioquark's study allegedly seeks to facilitate this quest. However, scientific inquiry cannot be haphazard, and human studies must be evidence-based and adhere to standards and regulations."
By definition, they say, death by neurological critera, or DNC, requires irreversible cessation all all brain functions, the brain stem included. "As such, the proposal that DNC could be reversible is self-contradictory. DNC is well-acknowledged by the medical, legal, and ethical communities to constitute legal death. The public, however, has a poor understanding of DNC. The suggestion that DNC could be reversed provides families of brain dead patients a cruel, false hope for recovery. This is especially so for families that believe in reincarnation. Because this trial borders on quackery yet has been well-publicized, it is the responsibility of the academic community to facilitate a public dialogue about its scientific and ethical shortcomings. Dead means dead."
Other opponents to the controversial study object on the grounds that stem cell research is not yet advanced to apply to complex human brains—very damaged ones at that—as animal studies are not yet far enough along for the study to be safe. Maybe there's a reason Bioquark has to hold the study in South America.
Late last year, new research suggested that there may be some for of life after death, as human consciousness was found to not necessarily end when the heart stops beating.
In other neurological news, monitoring brain activity can tell scientists who your friends are, bits about Elon Musk's secretive "Neural Lace" brain computer are slowly starting to leak out, and other new brain implants can improve your memory by 30 percent.