Headed Towards Head Transplants?

The Scientist reports: “Scientists have met one of the long-standing challenges of regenerative medicine: For the first time, they have succeeded in coaxing an injured spinal cord to regenerate sensory axons in rats that reinnervate the specific place they would need to reach in order to regain function.”

The article goes on to say that the regenerated axons showed little or no activity. Still, being way theoretical — this could turn out to be a minor steppingstone not only towards helping people with spinal cord injuries, but theoretically for doing whole-brain or head transplants in the future. If we are able to reconnect severed nerves in spinal cord injuries (basically attaching wire A to severed wire A1), it becomes more plausible to imagine that, in the future, we could somehow connect a brain (envision growing a cloned body of yourself up to age 14, then transplanting your head off your 80 year old body onto the young and healthy body) to a “new” spinal cord.

The article contains strenuous words of caution against expecting too much too soon from John Houle, who studies regeneration after spinal cord injury at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia — and he’s talking about spinal injuries not poppin’ heads onto cloned bodies, so you’d best keep your head screwed on straight for another few decades, if not centuries.

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