A scene from the The cult-classic RE-ANIMATOR
The irreversible loss of brain function, or 'brain death', is the
legal definition of human death in most countries around the world.
But one company believes brain death may no longer be the end of the
line. The project has gained ethical approval from regulatory bodies
for the first stage in what has been dubbed 'Lazarus trial'
The project now plans to recruit a small number of patients, who
will have been declared clinically dead from brain injury.
It has been dubbed Lazarus after Saint Lazarus who is said in the
Bible to have been brought back to life by Jesus four days after his
'We are repeatedly told through the medical establishment that
brain death is "irreversible" and should be considered the
end of the line,' Ira Pastor, boss of Bioquark said.
The complete and irreversible loss of brain function, or 'brain
death', is the legal definition of human death in most countries
around the world.
In the UK and the US, among other countries, a person is confirmed
as being dead when their brain stem function is permanently lost.
Being brain dead is widely accepted to be just as final as cardiac
'Or is it? Have we come to a technological point where we are able
to 'push the envelope' to see if this is truly the case?
'While it is true that human beings lack substantial regenerative
capabilities in the central nervous system (CNS), many non-human
species, such as amphibians, planarians, and certain fish, can
repair, regenerate and remodel substantial portions of their brain
and brain stem even after critical life-threatening trauma,' Mr
Confirming death used to be straightforward, according to the NHS.
It was said to occur when the heart stopped beating and a person was
unresponsive and no longer breathing.
The lack of oxygen, which occurred as a result of no blood flow,
quickly led to the permanent loss of brain stem function.
Lazarus is described as a follower of Jesus, who lives in the town
of Bethany near Jerusalem.
A similar resurrection story is in the Secret Gospel of Mark,
although the man is not named.
But now confirming death is more complicated, because it's
possible to keep the heart beating after the brain stem has
permanently stopped functioning.
This can be done by keeping a person on a ventilator, which allows
the body and heart to be artificially oxygenated, for example.
Mr Pastor, along with Dr
Sergei Paylian, the founder of Bioquark, is on the advisory board of
a project called ReAnima.
The ReAnima project website describes the project as 'exploring
the potential of cutting edge biomedical technology for human
neuro-regeneration and neuro-reanimation.'
'The mission of the ReAnima Project is to focus on clinical
research in the state of brain death, or irreversible coma, in
subjects who have recently met the Uniform Determination of Death Act
criteria, but who are still on cardio-pulmonary or trophic support -
a classification in many countries around the world known as a
"living cadaver"' Mr Pastor told MailOnline.
A salamander is part of a group of amphibians that can
repair, regenerate and remodel substantial portions of their brain
and brain stem even after critical life-threatening trauma. A study
in 2007 showed that after a portion of their brains were removed, the
animals managed to grow it back
He said the project has an 'ultimate goal of inducing epimorphic,
intercalary, regenerative and remodeling events that can begin to
restore CNS form and function.'
Mr Pastor added that 'epimorphic' in this context refers to the
ability of cells to erase their history and re-start life again.
'To undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining certain biologic regenerative tools, with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of patients with other severe disorders of consciousness,' he explained.
'We just received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for
our first 20 subjects and we hope to start recruiting patients
stage, named 'First In Human Neuro-Regeneration &
Neuro-Reanimation' will be a non-randomised, single group 'proof of
The team will examine individuals aged 15-65 declared brain dead
from a traumatic brain injury using MRI scans, in order to look for
possible signs of brain death reversal.
They will use techniques involving peptides, lasers, stem cells
and median nerve stimulation to try and bring about the reversal of
brain death, whilst monitoring the patients using MRI scans.
'We hope to see results within the first two to three months,' he
A positive initial result would be 'an epimorphic event upwards at
the intersection of the upper spinal cord, the highest part still
"alive" in a living cadaver subject, and the lowest region
of the brain stem, the lowest area of brain stem death and the source
of independent breathing / and subsequently heart beat.
'While there have been numerous demonstrations in recent years
that the human brain and nervous system may not be as fixed and
irreparable as is typically assumed, the idea that brain death could
be easily reversed seems very far fetched, given our current
abilities and understanding of neuroscience,' Dr Dean Burnett,
neuroscientist at the Cardiff University Centre For Medical Education
'The brain is a very demanding and vastly complex organ, but this
also means it's very fragile.'
He said even a brief interruption of blood supply could cause
permanent damage to the active parts of the brain.
'It's true some brain areas may be more durable, or have a more
reliable blood supply, but a person, despite the myth, needs all of
their brain working. It's not just the brain cells that are
important, it's the incredibly intricate ways they're connected to
many other areas.
'Saving individual parts might be helpful but it's a long way from
resurrecting a whole working brain, in a functional, undamaged state.
There's been nothing to suggest we're even close to that point yet.'
But Mr Pastor thinks the trials could lead to results by as early
as next year.
'We believe we are quite close to a point in time where the
delineation between coma, and irreversible coma or brain death will
become "blurred" and hope to have such promising insights
by 2017,' Pastor told MailOnline.
'Because 50,000 of the 150,000 people who die daily do not die
from aging, but from various acute traumas that lead rapidly to brain
death, we think even this modest dynamic will have a major impact.'
Lazarus trial hopes to REVERSE death: 'Reanimation' firm gets ethical approval to bring brain-dead people back to life VICTORIA WOOLLASTON 4 May 2016
Un gruppo di scienziati statunitensi ha dato il via a un progetto per "riportare in vita" i soggetti clinicamente morti.
Sembra la trama di un film horror o di fantascienza, ma è tutto vero. La società biotech Bioquark ha infatti ricevuto l'approvazione dal governo Usa, inclusa la possibilità di reclutare (con permessi speciali ottenuti dalle famiglie) 20 pazienti clinicamente morti a seguito di una lesione cerebrale traumatica. Per riuscire nell'impresa, i ricercatori utilizzeranno un mix di terapie, tra cui la rigenerazione del cervello e l'iniezione di cellule staminali.
- La somministrazione delle terapie, dalla stimolazione neuronale all'iniezione di peptidi, durerà diversi mesi. Durante questo lasso di tempo, i soggetti saranno monitorati attraverso screening cerebrali per verificare i segni di un'eventuale "rigenerazione". E qui, sì, la questione si fa "inquietante": in caso di risultato positivo, il cervello dell'individuo "rinato" ripartirà da zero, assumendo un'identità completamente nuova. In altre parole sarà classificato come individuo X e la sua nuova vita avrà inizio da quel preciso momento. Un'ipotesi che però al momento è tra le meno plausibili.