Stem cells have been used to achieve groundbreaking feats of medicine over the past decade; from helping patients with spinal injuries regain movement, to re-growing heart tissue and reversing neurodegenerative disorders.
However, research ,which has recently been given approval, is aiming to take these advances not just one step, but a whole leap, further.
The Revita project, which will be carried out by US biotech company, Bioquark, looks to break through the boundaries of modern science, and do what until now was thought impossible – bring a person back to life.
The research will be conducted on 20 patients who are clinically brain dead, from traumatic injuries, but are being kept alive by a life support machine.
The idea is to use stem cells implanted in the brain to regrow, and stimulate neurons, at the same time as injecting the spinal cord with chemicals, which are used to attempt to wake patients from comas. It is hoped that this will create a ‘jump start’ effect, which could theoretically bring the brain back to life. This procedure has worked to bring patients out of comas in the past.
Bioquark’s CEO, Ira Pastor, said;
“To undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of the central nervous system, in patients with other severe disorders of consciousness. We hope to see results within the first two to three months.”
“It is a long-term vision of ours that a full recovery in such patients is a possibility, although that is not the focus of this first study.
“It is a bridge to that eventuality.”
The procedure will involve a daily dose of peptides being administered into the spinal cord, and a bi- weekly administration of stem cells over a 6 week period. This will be coupled with nerve stimulation techniques.
“This represents the first trial of its kind and another step towards the eventual reversal of death in our lifetime,” Dr Ira Pastor, CEO of Bioquark Inc.
The trial has been approved in India and will begin at Anupam Hospital, where Dr Himanshu Bansal will lead the team to begin the pioneering research. The patients’ brains will be monitored using MRI scans for several months after the treatment to look for signs of regeneration, particularly in the upper spinal cord – the lowest region of the brain stem responsible for independent breathing and heartbeat.