August 12, 2014 - An Italian scientist has claimed that head transplants could be possible, after what he says is a major breakthrough in the technique. But another expert told The Local said the whole idea was potentially unethical.
Neuroscientist Sergio Canavero, from the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, was hit with a barrage of criticism after publishing his initial research last year, in which he said head transplants could be carried out by severing the heads of two patients at the same time, then cooling and flushing out the 'recipient' head before attaching it to its new body with polymer glue.
Some critics at the time said head transplants were "Frankenstein science," while others asked how Canavero proposed to connect the donors' and recipients' spinal chords.
But Canavero now says it is possible to merge bone marrow, surgically cut with an ultra-sharp knife, when fusing one person's head onto another person's spine.
He wrote in the Frontier of Neurology journal this month that the operation would be made possible using special membrane-fusion substances called fusogens, which would be injected between the two stumps cut in the spinal chord.
He backed up his claims by pointing to experiments on rats at the University of Dusseldorf, adding that the animals had fully recovered use of their limbs after the procedure.