Neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero insists ‘time is now’ for frontier-breaking head transplant

By Adam Justice

Dr Sergio Canavero, an Italian neurosurgeon, says he is getting ready to carry out the first ever human head transplant. He has already found a volunteer for the controversial operation - terminally ill Valery Spiridonov from Russia, who says he wants to help in any way he can to make a “huge scientific breakthrough”.

However, questions remain over the feasibility and the ethics of the operation. Canavero says he is preparing to carry out the operation within two years and according to his estimates, the procedure would see Spiridonov’s head being attached to the body of a donor through spinal cord fusion (SCF).

It is an operation that will require a team of more than 100 medical workers and could take 36 hours to complete.

According to Canavero’s calculations the operation would cost around $15m and would take place either in China or the US.

Canavero has also been quick to dismiss critics who do not believe the operation will work and has suggested anyone opposed to the idea should travel to Valery’s hometown in the Russian city of Vladimir, east of Moscow, to see for themselves.

“No problem. Come to Vladimir, Russia. I will tie you up to Valery’s wheelchair, you will poo and pee the way he does, you will sleep the way he does, for 24 hours, OK? After 24 hours, I will ask you 'do you still believe that this is going to be a crazy project?’ and I can bet you 100 to one that it is possible he will change his mind,” he told Reuters in his studio in the northern Italian city of Turin.

Canavero says the key to the procedure is a sharp severance of the spinal cords. The head needs to be removed with a sharp blade, causing minimal damage to the spinal cords. Speed, too, is of essence, he says.

“Actually, as everybody knows by now, the head will be cooled and there won’t be a single drop of blood inside so he will be clinically dead, as dead as it gets as I said in my TEDx talk. And actually this momentary absence of circulation is, it’s actually momentary because the two gurneys will be like this in the same room, so the head will gravitate for just a few seconds until the surgeon will start reconnecting the head to the new body,” he said.

Canavero, who is still seeking funding for the project, is due to address the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons’ 39th Annual Conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in June.

Dr Christopher J Winfree is an assistant professor of Neurological Surgery at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He says most physicians agree on the ethical, technical and physiological limitations that a head transplant procedure poses.

Winfree said the main concern that had arisen in his talks with his colleagues was reattaching a severed spinal cord.

“The real issue is when we get down to the physiology of the situation. One of the problems that is brought up is the ability to heal the severed spinal cord, which is what would happen if you cut a head off and put it on a different body. You would try and fuse that spinal cord together. Our current technology doesn’t allow that healing to occur,” he said.

Spiridonov now speaks regularly with Canavero via videophone and admits he is scared about the procedure but says time is running out for him.

The computer scientist suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy, which causes severe muscle weakness. Life expectancy for his type is low, with few sufferers reaching adolescence or young adulthood. At 30, he says his condition is rapidly deteriorating.

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Smithsonian Scientists Show How Repeated Marine Predator Evolution Tracks Changes in Ancient and Anthropocene Oceans

For more than 250 million years, four-limbed land animals known as tetrapods have repeatedly conquered the Earth’s oceans. These creatures—such as plesiosaurs, penguins and sea turtles—descended from separate groups of terrestrial vertebrates that convergently evolved to thrive in aquatic environments.

In a new scientific review, a team of Smithsonian scientists synthesized decades of scientific discoveries to illuminate the common and unique patterns driving the extraordinary transitions that whales, dolphins, seals and other species underwent as they moved from land to sea. Drawing on recent breakthroughs in diverse fields such as paleontology, molecular biology and conservation ecology, their findings offer a comprehensive look at how life in the ocean has responded to environmental change over time. The paper also highlights how evolutionary history informs an understanding of the impact of human activities on marine species today. More information is available in the April 17 issue of Science.

Marine tetrapods represent a diverse group of living and extinct species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds that all play—or played—a critical role as large ocean predators in marine ecosystems. The repeated transitions between land and sea have driven innovation, convergence and diversification against a backdrop of changing marine ecosystems and mass extinctions dating back to the Triassic period. In this way, they provide ideal models for testing hypotheses about the evolution of species over long periods of time. Modern species of marine tetrapods now face a suite of human-driven impacts to their environment, including climate change, habitat degradation, ship collisions and underwater noise.

“We know from the fossil record that previous times of profound change in the oceans were important turning points in the evolutionary history of marine species,” said Neil Kelley, a Peter Buck post-doctoral researcher in the National Museum of Natural History’s department of paleobiology and lead author in the study. “Today’s oceans continue to change, largely from human activities. This paper provides the evolutionary context for understanding how living species of marine predators will evolve and adapt to life in the Anthropocene.”

Read more here.

Provided by Smithsonian (via ScienceDaily)

Image credit:  Karen Carr

pansexurl asked:

I've read the definition for quoigender, and I just wanted to clear this up: Quiogender is when you don't even know what it's like to feel gender? As in you don't even realize how anyone could feel a gender because you never have, or you wouldn't even know how to tell if you experience gender? Because if that's what it is, this is a major breakthrough in my gender search.

I’m not quoigender (and none of the mods here are) so you may want to ask someone who is quoigender.

However, I’m pretty sure that quoigender can be used if you don’t know what it’s like to feel gender. If any of the below examples are things you’ve felt, you may have found your major breakthrough.

  • Do I even experience gender? Why is it assumed that I feel gender? I can’t tell?
  • What even is gender and what do you mean by these words.
  • Should I use these words? When? Why? How? What?
  • These words aren’t useful to me. These words don’t make sense to me.
  • I don’t identify with these words, I don’t sense them, I don’t actively feel them
  • Gender feels inaccessible, inapplicable, nonsensical to me.

Good luck in your gender search!


An Alternate Reality Spider-Man I decided to think up. ouo

In another reality, Curt Connors is a brilliant geneticist who has made major breakthroughs in human regeneration through the manipulation of animal genes. What no one knows is the good doctor lost much of his sanity in his pursuits and resorted to human experimentation–even on his own son, Will.

Will, as a child, was mutated with spider genes, turned into a freakish hybrid. In anger and fear, the arachnid boy escaped his crazed father–injuring the scientist’s arm in the process–and hid away from society. Years later, Will seeks revenge on his father, and to fight injustice. With the help of his mentor and friend Doctor Otto Octavius, the inhuman teenager now fights crime as the Mysterious Spider-Man.

Powers are all basically the same as usual, except Will cannot shoot web-lines, instead weaving silk strands together like a natural spider, which comes from his palms. He also has a very venomous bite, possibly lethal, which he tries not to use.

Prayer is the key my friend for every breakthrough, miracle, release of strongholds, and for the manifestation of God’s power to move for your behalf. God’s plan has always been for you and Him to be in constant communication. There is nothing like witnessing the power of prayer as it comes to pass in your life. This why Paul wrote in Philippians 4, don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Stop worrying about things that truly you have no power over. And start thanking God because you know He does!! Let your prayer request be known to your Heavenly Father. Believe in your heart that the God you serve is going to come through. Trust in Lord your God. There nothing to big or hard for God. Happy Monday!!🙏🌍📝😘 #trustgod #mywalk #believer #blogger #faithwalk #notofthisworld #purposedriven #prayerworks #loudee2381 #kingdomthinking #godcan

Iran is not willing to accept its  nationals being forcibly deported from Australia but will welcome  back citizens of their own free will, a top official has warned.

The remarks by deputy foreign minister Hassan Ghashgavi came on  Sunday as Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop visited Tehran  but failed to make a breakthrough on a long-running immigration  dispute.

Ghashgavi, whose brief covers consular affairs, signalled the  two countries are widely at odds and he even launched a thinly  veiled dig at foreign states who send people back to their place of  origin.

Any forced deportation is contrary to human rights, but we  believe that the voluntary return of every Iranian to his country  is not a problem,’ the ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.

All immigration countries make a selection. They welcome those  they consider useful to their society… and reject others to be forcibly deported.’

Iranians make up 23 per cent of 1848 people held in immigration  detention centres in Australia, according to official figures from  late March.

Under a hardline policy, asylum-seekers arriving by boat in  Australia are subject to mandatory detention, and since 2013 have  been denied resettlement even if found to be genuine refugees.

Iranians account for many of the 1707 held on the Pacific island  outposts of Nauru and Papua New Guinea, some of whom are still  awaiting the final assessment of their claims for refugee status.

Read more: Sky News


Doctor saves child’s life by practicing heart surgery on 3D-printed model

Heart surgery is an extremely difficult procedure. Even more so when the tiny anatomy of a small child is involved. When 14-month old Roland Lian Cung Bawi’s heart was failing him, his surgeon Erle Austin knew that he had to prepare meticulously for an intricate operation. Initially he consulted other surgeons, but this yielded conflicting advice. So Austin turned to 3D printing for help.

Using the facilities at the University of Louisville’s engineering school, Austin and his medical team produced a three dimensional model of little Ronald’s heart. Pediatric operations are difficult because the interior structures of a child’s organs are small and hard to see clearly. This model allowed the surgical team to come up with a precise plan to limit the amount of exploratory incisions, reduce operating time and prevent the need for follow-up operations.

Read moreFollow policymic

A baby girl in Mississippi who was born with HIV has been cured after very early treatment with standard drug therapy, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday, in a potentially ground-breaking case that could offer insights on how to eradicate HIV infection in its youngest victims.

The child’s story is the first account of an infant achieving a so-called functional cure, a rare event in which a person achieves remission without the need for drugs and standard blood tests show no signs that the virus is making copies of itself.


The Top 5 Neuroscience Breakthroughs of 2012

More than any year before, 2012 was the year neuroscience exploded into pop culture. From mind-controlled robot hands to cyborg animals to TV specials to triumphant books, brain breakthroughs were tearing up the airwaves and the internets. From all the thrilling neurological adventures we covered over the past year, we’ve collected five stories we want to make absolutely sure you didn’t miss.

A Roadmap of Brain Wiring

Neuroscientists like to compare the task of unraveling the brain’s connections to the frustration of untangling the cords beneath your computer desk – except that in the brain, there are hundreds of millions of cords, and at least one hundred trillion plugs. Even with our most advanced computers, some researchers were despairing of ever seeing a complete connectivity map of the human brain in our lifetimes. But thanks to a team led by Van Wedeen at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, 2012 gave us an unexpectedly clear glimpse of our brains’ large-scale wiring patterns. As it turns out, the overall pattern isn’t so much a tangle as a fabric – an intricate, multi-layered grid of cross-hatched neural highways. What’s more, it looks like our brains share this grid pattern with many other species. We’re still a long way from decoding how most of this wiring functions, but this is a big step in the right direction.

Laser-Controlled Desire

Scientists have been stimulating rats’ pleasure centers since the 1950s – but 2012 saw the widespread adoption of a new brain-stimulation method that makes all those wires and incisions look positively crude. Researchers in the blossoming field of optogenetics develop delicate devices that control the firing of targeted groups of neurons – using only light itself. By hooking rats up to a tiny fiber-optic cable and firing lasers directly into their brains, a team led by Garret D. Stuber at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine were able to isolate specific neurochemical shifts that cause rats to feel pleasure or anxiety – and switch between them at will. This method isn’t only more precise than electrical stimulation – it’s also much less damaging to the animals.

Programmable Brain Cells

Pluripotent stem cell research took off like a rocket in 2012. After discovering that skin cells can be genetically reprogrammed into stem cells, which can in turn be reprogrammed into just about any cell in the human body, a team led by Sheng Ding at UCSF managed to engineer a working network of newborn neurons from a harvest of old skin cells. In other words, the team didn’t just convert skin cells into stem cells, then into neurons – they actually kept the batch of neurons alive and functional long enough to self-organize into a primitive neural network. In the near future, it’s likely that we’ll be treating many kinds of brain injuries by growing brand-new neurons from other kinds of cells in a patient’s own body. This is already close on the horizon for liver and heart cells – but the thought of being able to technologically shape the re-growth of a damaged brain is even more exciting.

Memories on Disc

We’ve talked a lot about how easily our brains can modify and rewrite our long-term memories of facts and scenarios. In 2012, though, researchers went Full Mad Scientist with the implications of this knowledge, and blew some mouse minds in the process. One team, led by Mark Mayford of the Scripps Research Institute, took advantage of some recently invented technology that enables scientists to record and store a mouse’s memory of a familiar place on a microchip. Mayford’s team figured out how to turn specific mouse memories on and off with the flick of a switch – but they were just getting warmed up. The researchers then proceeded to record a memory in one mouse’s brain, transfer it into another mouse’s nervous system, and activate it in conjunction with one of the second mouse’s own memories. The result was a bizarre “hybrid memory” – familiarity with a place the mouse had never visited. Well, not in the flesh, anyway.

Videos of Thoughts

Our most exciting neuroscience discovery of 2012 is also one of the most controversial. A team of researchers from the Gallant lab at UC Berkeley discovered a way to reconstruct videos of entire scenes from neural activity in a person’s visual cortex. Those on the cautionary side emphasize that activity in the visual cortex is fairly easy to decode (relatively speaking, of course) and that we’re still a long, long way from decoding videos of imaginary voyages or emotional palettes. In fact, from one perspective, this isn’t much different from converting one file format into another. On the other hand, though, these videos offer the first hints of the technological reality our children may inhabit: A world where the boundaries between the objective external world and our individual subjective experiences are gradually blurred and broken down. When it comes to transforming our relationship with our own consciousness – and those of the people around us – it doesn’t get much more profound than that.






It’s not rewarding the fans for 200 episodes. It’s thanking them.

Without the fans, Supernatural wouldn’t be continuing anymore. Sam and Dean wouldn’t even exist anymore. 

The fans didn’t “rewrite” Supernatural.

The fans saved Supernatural.