August 13, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Beyond zombies: reviving dead people with stem cells & lasers?

Bioquark
Image from Bioquark website

There’s been a lot of buzz the last few days about reviving the dead  via stem cells.

Is this possible? Who knows, but it would be very long odds.

Could it lead to zombies? Not really, but there could be negative outcomes even if it seems to sorta work (more below).

Bioquark, Inc. is a biotech company reportedly pursuing the idea of using a combo of lasers and stem cells to bring people back. By dead in this case, we mean people who are brain dead and otherwise have practical possibility of returning to life.

The company’s so-called Re-anima Project is pursuing both neuroregeneration and what they call neuro-reanimation. Bioquark has permission to experiment on 20 subjects in India and its CEO Ira Pastor has been on the news a lot lately. You can see a tweet from him below.

The idea seems to be that injection of stem cells into the brain stem could lead to enough rejuvenation to reverse brain death at least partially and this would be done in combination with laser stimulation of the brain. I need to learn more, but how exactly could lasers affect the brain positively? More broadly, I’m skeptical of this approach.

According to The Telegraph:

“The first stage, named ‘First In Human Neuro-Regeneration & Neuro-Reanimation’ will be a non-randomised, single group ‘proof of concept’ and will take place at Anupam Hospital in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand India.”

This project is a huge long shot.

At the same time it might have a relatively low potential for harm since the subjects are already dead.

I don’t foresee the creation of zombies, but even if Re-anima “woke up” some brain dead patients and that is unlikely, they may not be themselves any more.

It will be important to not hype the potential of this technology and of this particular study.

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