From Lazarus to Mary Shelley’s monster to George A. Romero’s hordes, humans have long dreamed of (and dreaded) being able to cheat death.
Now two biotech companies will attempt to bring some measure of life into the brains of 20 people in India with the application of stem cells.
It’s called the “ReAnima Project,” and it just received an institutional review board approval.
The venture is between the Philadelphia-based Bioquark and Revita Life Sciences of India. The clinical trials were approved by the IRB at the Anupam Hospital in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand, India, the companies announced today.
Their theory: human beings can’t regenerate their central nervous system after brain death – but certain animals like amphibians and fish can.
Humans may still have residual blood flow and some electrical activity, even during brain death, they believe – and stem cells may hold the answer to regenerating neurotransmitters that begin to disappear after clinical death.
“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,” said Sergei Paylian, the founder and chief science officer of Bioquark.
The Phase I trial will look for individuals killed by a traumatic brain injury. Shortly after a declaration of death, the scientists will administer BQ-A peptide extracts and mesenchymal stem cells directly into the brain matter of the recently deceased, according to the ClinicalTrials.gov file.
Transcranial laser therapy and median nerve stimulators will also be used an “intervention” to essentially jump-start activity in the neural cells.
The experiments will last 15 days, and results will wrap in April 2017, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
“We are very excited about the approval of our protocol,” said Ira Pastor, the CEO of Bioquark. “With the convergence of the disciplines of regenerative biology, cognitive neurosciences, and clinical resuscitation, we are posed to delve into an area of scientific understanding previously inaccessible with existing technologies.”
Major breakthroughs have been made in the last decade in resuscitating people with heart attacks and other sudden deaths – sometimes with the use of hypothermia to prevent tissue damage during short periods of clinical death.
Some other scientific groups have made attempts to characterize the consciousness of death – and what level of awareness the brain has at the moment of death.
Watch how it works:
This article originally appeared on Bioscience.