Neuroscientist, Sergio Canavero says his rats treated with the Gemini Protocol have had no adverse effects and have regained movement. This method of fusing spinal cords using polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been used on laboratory rats with successful results. This puts Canavero a step closer to his goal announced in 2015 to perform a head transplant using the Gemini Protocol that he created.
The latest study findings were reported in the journal CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics. The spinal cords of 15 rats were severed and 9 of them were treated with the new protocol by a surgical team lead by Xiaoping Ren from Harbin Medical University in China. The severed spinal cords were bathed in cooled saline and adrenaline to minimize bleeding before the PEG was applied. The wounds were closed and the rats received antibiotics for three days. Only one of the rats did not survive the month after the surgery. The rats treated with the Gemini Protocol steadily recovered motor function and had regained the ability to walk by the 28th day. Two of the rats returned to “basically normal.”
The team reported that the key to fusion of the spinal cord is inflicting minimal damage at the time they are severed. The scientists agreed that paralysis can be reversed to a significant extent after the spinal cord has been severed. This is a fundamental advance because it confirms the small proof-of-principle studies. The Gemini Protocol does actually work. The study will now be conducted using dogs to show that the technique will work across the board.
The first human head transplant was scheduled to be performed on a Russian patient, Valery Spiridonov but will instead be done using a Chinese national in December by Canavero. More papers on the research are expected to be released with more detail on other aspects of the surgery that are challenging.
Human head transplant critics have been very vocal concerning the possibility of a successful surgery to attach a brain to another person’s spinal cord. They argue that the resulting person could not possibly be functional after this type of surgery and that there will not be a breathing, talking and moving human being that results.
Some scientists say that the wording of the report may imply that the team did not completely severe the spinal cords in the test animals. They question if only the dorsal cord was severed. They also argue that there was no evidence of regeneration in the axons which form a part of the spinal cord, as the team claimed. Critics also point out that there is no study of the microscopic tissue structure, which is the only way to truly assess what is happening in the animals.
Canavero has responded to the criticism by saying that the critics are unfamiliar with the technique. He went on to suggest that scientist who have not been able to repair spinal cords should stop criticizing those who have. Canavero says that the team has been amazed by the results and the Gemini Protocol is revolutionary.