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Surgeon promising first human head transplant makes US pitch

Sergio Canavero, who leads the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, first announced his project in 2013, saying at the time that such a procedure could be possible as soon as 2016.



By (AFP)

Published: Tue 16 Jun 2015, 12:02 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:58 PM

Annapolis  — An Italian neurosurgeon’s project to undertake the first human head transplant has received a sceptical welcome in the United States, where he made a pitch to donors and fellow scientists.

Sergio Canavero, who leads the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, first announced his project in 2013, saying at the time that such a procedure could be possible as soon as 2016.

But this timeline seems extremely unlikely given the numerous obstacles and gaps in knowledge.

Canavero, who made a 2.5-hour presentation on Friday at a conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons in Annapolis, Maryland, met for the first time there a man who volunteered for the world’s first head transplant.

Russian-born Valery Spiridonov, 30, suffers from Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, which is a progressive and incurable wasting ailment. He was among the 150-some conference participants.

Invited to speak at the start of the conference, Canavero described at length how he would mend a severed spinal cord — a crucial factor in any such surgery — and described advances in the field, especially on animals.

The secret is to use a nano blade to cut the cord, then polyethylene glycol and an electrical current to accelerate the reconnection of severed nerve fibres. — AFP


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