Health watchdogs in the US and India have granted permission to a US biotech company to undertake trials on clinically dead patients to see if parts of their central nervous system could be brought back to life.
The biotech company, Bioquark Inc., will now be able to recruit 20 patients, who have been declared clinically dead after suffering from a serious brain injury, to conduct tests as part of their ReAnima Project.
The first stage of the study, called "First In Human Neuro-Regeneration & Neuro-Reanimation", will see trial participants being administered stem cells and a combination of peptides. The patients, who have been declared dead clinically but have been kept alive through life support, will be administered the peptides into their spinal cords everyday through a pump.
The stem cells will be given bi-weekly, over the course of a six-week period, The Telegraph reported. Lasers and certain nerve stimulation techniques used to revive patients in comas will also be employed to see if their brains could be regenerated. Emphasis will be on reviving the upper spinal cord, which is the lowest region of the brain stem and controls independent breathing and heartbeat.
Dr Ira Pastor, the CEO of the biotech company, confirmed they had received approval to recruit 20 patients for the trial. "To undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of the central nervous system, in patients with other severe disorders of consciousness," he was quoted as saying. He added that they hope to see results within the first two to three months.
The biotech company received permission for the tests from an Institutional Review Board at the National Institutes of Health in the US and in India. The first stage of the trials will be conducted at Anupam Hospital in Rudrapur, a city in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.
"This represents the first trial of its kind and another step towards the eventual reversal of death in our lifetime," Pastor said. He confirmed they had received approval to recruit 20 patients for the trial. "It is a long term vision of ours that a full recovery in such patients is a possibility, although that is not the focus of this first study — but it is a bridge to that eventuality," he added.
Dr Sergei Paylian, founder, president and chief science officer of Bioquark, was quoted as saying: "Through our study, we will gain unique insights into the state of human brain death, which will have important connections to future therapeutic development for other severe disorders of consciousness, such as coma, and the vegetative and minimally conscious states, as well as a range of degenerative CNS conditions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease."