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Death is a controversial subject in the medical field for many reasons. People rely on doctors to save them and their loved ones, but when fate has its way, the whole world can feel out of order. And while the death of a loved one may not feel final at first, we soon come to realize that, at least for the living who remain, it does mark an end.

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That’s why it seems like a controversial yet incredible move for a US biotechnology company called Bioquark to have been given permission to recruit 20 clinically dead patients and attempt to bring their central nervous systems back to life. They hope to eliminate patients’ need to rely on machines by reanimating parts of the upper spinal cord, where the lower brain stem is located, to potentially energize vital body functions like breathing and heartbeats.

Trial participants will have been declared certified dead and kept alive solely through life support machines. “This represents the first trial of its kind and another step towards the eventual reversal of death in our lifetime,” said CEO of Bioquark Inc., Ira Pastor. The team, who was granted ethical permission from an Institutional Review Board at the National Institutes of Health in the US and India to begin trials on 20 subjects, is looking to recruit patients for its ReAnima Project as soon as possible.

The team will first complete a phase 1 trial, referred to as a non-randomized, proof-of-concept study. This will determine whether or not they are capable of reversing clinical brain death through drug administration, nerve stimulation, and laser therapy. They’ll also be looking at whether or not they can affect any changes in the meninges of the brain, layers of tissue located between the skull and the surface of the brain. Specifically, the team will be investigating improvements in the patients’ pulse, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and respiration.

The team will first seek permission from the families of the clinically dead, and then will proceed to treat the 20 chosen individuals over a six-week period in Anupam Hospital in Rudrapur, India. These will then be monitored for several months, where the researchers will determine if any changes have been made. “We hope to see results within the first two to three months,” Pastor said.

To attempt to bring the patients back from the dead, Bioquark has administered four different types of treatments, which include:

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  • Injecting simple protein chains called peptides into the patients’ spinal cord on a daily basis.
  • Injecting stem cells into their brains twice weekly.
  • Using the non-invasive treatment called transcranial laser therapy to activate the body’s natural recovery processes.
  • Using another non-invasive technique called nerve stimulation, which involves delivering electrical impulses to the median nerve of the upper limb.

“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,” Pastor noted.

The researchers are hoping that, if they can get patients’ brains to work again, and since many clinically dead can retain certain functions, like processing waste, digesting nutrients, healing wounds, and growing and maturing, people will have the chance to regain some semblance of life. But for now, the team is just trying to take it one step at a time.

“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 – but it is a bridge to that eventuality,” Pastor said

And Sergei Pavlian, founder and president of Bioquark Inc., added:

Through our study, we will gain unique insights into the state of human brain death, which will have important connections to future therapeutic development for other severe disorders of consciousness, such as coma, and the vegetative and minimally conscious states, as well as a range of degenerative CNS conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,” said Sergei Paylian, the founder and chief science officer of Bioquark.

Check out the trial outline here.


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