Brain Transplants Case Study

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The Oxford dictionary definition of a transplant is to ‘take a living tissue or an organ and implant it in another part of the body or in another body. [1]’ I will be exploring the possibilities of human brain transplants, including the psychological effects, the ethics behind a brain transplant and the reasons why someone would want to have one. Covered will be possible challenges and complications such as difference in the tissue and blood type and what tools are needed to perform such an operation. Included in this essay will be a case study on Dr. Sergio Canavero who is looking to perform the world first head transplant on Valery Spiridonov who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease. One question I will be looking at is if someone with brain…show more content…
Also, scientists do not currently possess the equipment that is needed to reattach the spinal cord, cranial nerves, veins and the four main arteries which supply the brain. These arteries are the internal carotid arteries, which branch off to form the two major cerebral arteries: the anterior and middle cerebral arteries and the left and right vertebral arteries, forming the basilar artery. [2] At this moment, human brain/head transplants are very far away from being possible, but they may be possible in the future with further technological advances. The largest obstacle during these transplants is the ability to connect the nerves from the transplanted brain to the donor body’s spinal cord. This is obviously difficult and severe spinal cord injuries are usually so disastrous and permanent because this connection of the nerves is broken. If brain transplants were possible in the future, the identity of the person may change and be more like the identity of the donor of the brain. [3] This is because it is unlike a normal transplant, such as a transplanted heart, but the brain is where memory, identity and personality are all stored, so the outcomes may be…show more content…
These proteins are known as ‘Id proteins’ which are highly abundant in the cells of many different types of cancer, including brain, breast cancer and paediatric tumours, and they are known to promote tumour growth and assist in the spread of cancer. While searching for ways to kill the Id cells, they discovered the surprising neuron-healing properties of Id proteins. Their initial findings, published in the Nature paper, found that an enzyme inside normal cells called APC is what usually degrades Id proteins soon after they're produced by normal cells, but cancerous cells show a very high level of Id proteins. They also examined the Id protein potential for promoting growth, so they are attempting to use the power of Id proteins to stimulate growth of axons, which are the structures on neurons responsible for transmitting electrical signals between the brain and spinal cord. But to do this they needed to overcome the APC enzymes, which degrade the protein in normal cells. This therapy would not cause cancer in the brain or spinal cord, this is because neurons have completely lost the ability to create new cells in adults, so there's no danger of creating a tumour and so regenerating their axons is the only growth they can do.
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