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Science

Living-Donor Nerve Transplant 91

Posted by timothy
from the with-extra-nerves-i'd-meet-girl-X-in-the-bookstore dept.
Over at CNN there is an AP report which might remind you alternately of stories by William Gibson and Mary Shelley: Doctors in Texas have just transplanted nerves from a living donor (in this case the mother of the recipient, an 8-month old baby) to replace ones damaged at birth. The operation itself was successful, but whether the nerve will successfully carry signals between the infant's arms and brain won't be known for a while. Seems like we can now transplant just about everything short of the brain in one form or other -- skin, bone marrow, major organs.
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Living-Donor Nerve Transplant

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  • The nerves in our arms and legs consist of long extensions (axons) from cells that are located in the spinal cord. The axons are surrounded by other cells that basically serve as framework and insulation, if you will. When a nerve is injured, the axons may die beyond the point of injury. If the framework cells are still intact, the axons can grow back down the nerve and the nerve's function can recover. The axons grow back at about 1 mm per day. If the distance between the injury and the target site isn't too far (like a finger injury) the results are good. If the nerves have to go a long ways, the target site may have irreversibly atrophied by the time the nerve fibers get there. If a nerve is cut, it can't recover because the framework has been interrupted. However, cut nerves can be surgically repaired - if the nerve framework is lined up carefully, the axons will grow past the site of repair and the nerve can recover. Nerve grafts have been used for years, where a non-essential nerve is removed and put into another site in the same patient. Recovery of nerve function is just like when a cut nerve is sewn back together, except that their are two sites of repair. What they did here was basically the same thing except that the nerve graft came from the babie's mother, rather than the baby him( or her)self. David Bruce, M.D. LifeLink Transplant Institute Tampa, Florida
  • Read what I mean, not what I write.
  • body transplant: the last ditch effort after yer plastic surgeon finally fails you
  • How about a head transplant [salon.com]? Apparently, this is being seriously considered as a drastic, but possibly justifiable, last-ditch measure to preserve the lives of otherwise hopeless quadriplegics, whose bodies steadily degrade as a result of their condition. They'd still be quadriplegic, of course: no one's talking about reattaching the spinal cord or anything else, it's strictly about keeping blood flowing to the brain. Everybody's favourite quad, Christopher Reeve, has already been mentioned as a possible candidate. If you were reduced to the state of basically a talking head, would you consider it?
  • No, it was an 8-month old.

    --
  • heart reached the point where it will never start again?

    um... they don't seem to have this problem with heart transplants...
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that brain transplants have been done on monkys and other animals, but that they were quadraplegic(sp?) afterwards. While it hasn't been done on humans for obvious reasons, I don't think its imposible.
  • Besides that, it'll probably only work with children since adults' nerves don't really grow any more. So the statement that we'd be able to transplant everything but the brain is a bit premature.
  • There are a couple of good review articles by one of the best surgeons in the field (Dr. Susan MacKinnon: Hand Clin 1999 Nov;15(4):643-66, ix). The major problems that I see with an allograft such as this is the need for immunosuppression. Is it worth it to gain use of an arm but lose your immune system, kidneys, and countless other organs? I really have to question why this was done...I suppose that the child is young enough to perhaps not need immunosuppression after awhile. And I guess they could always take it back out or let it get fibrosed...

    Invicta{HOG}
  • You know you were drunk last night, when you wake up next to yourself.

  • by MrP- (45616)
    but they can transplant a dog testicle into a man, theyve done it before, its common.. try searching google for medical dog testicle transplants , im sure youll find more info.

    -----
  • Mark me OffTopic, but while we are on the topic of "if i had more nerve to ask the girl out.."

    if you are the ultimate nerv-less geek who has trouble even looking at girls, check out this link,

    How to overcome fear of rejection [sosuave.com]

    it works! really.
  • Although not exactly the same scenario, your fingertip and the article/issue in question demonstrate similar principles re: nerve regrowth. It has been shown that peripheral nerves (i.e. outside the brain/spinal cord) will regrow at approximately 1mm/day. 1/2"is approx. 12mm, thus the nerve probably reached your fingertip rather quickly compared to when sensation actually returned to normal. This discrepancy between regrowth and function plagues nerve grafts in complex bundles (such as the brachial plexus) even more in that the graft/conduit needs to not only allow regrowth, but DIRECTED regrowth. Fibers to muscles must still reach muscle and sensory fibers should reach the appropriate target tissue. Multiply that by the discordant return to NORMAL function and imagine the difficulty in predicting outcome. One exciting field of research currently involves seeding artificial conduits or cadaveric conduits with an individual's own supporting cells-such as the Schwann cell-in an attempt to facilitate nerve regrowth. As always, Med-line remains a great resource: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi try searching for: nerve interposition grafts
  • This is the chance for those lusers to get a working neuron and improve their condition. Hell - even sawdust would improve it.
    On the other hand - I'm afraid the resources are rather limited - remember that one with "Population on Earth is increasing in number - however, the intelligence amount is constant"

    --
  • My dad is a plastic surgeon, and he recently did something very interesting: on a woman whose 5 nerve connections to one arm were destroyed in an accident but whose other arm was unhurt, he took one of these five bundles and diverted it from one arm to the other.
    He doesn't know the results for this particular patient yet, but experience by Chinese surgeons (who were the only ones to have done it so far) shows that the unhurt arm is still perfectly usable (no change at all except for a numb feeling in two fingers that disappears after a few weeks), and the previously paralyzed one can get up to 80% functionality again.
    So the brain relearns that nerves control something *completely different* now. And I presume both arms are controlled by the same hemisphere now.
    The brain is amazing, isn't it?
  • ...is that one of the reasons this was done is because of the relatively small body size of an infant. Had this child been much older, would the operation been possible? I'm under the impression that even full grown people don't have lots of extra nerves to spare...

    -HobophobE

  • Taken form the article:

    "Her nerves are not providing any function. They are serving as conduits, pathways to direct the child's own nerves to grow back together."

    It is important to note that the mother's nerves are not actually growing into the child's nervous system. When that occurs it will substantually more impressive, as we will be much closer to repairing more substantial injuries, such as those to the spinal cord. That could also lead to more controvertial future operations like brain transplantation.

  • Great.... this is exactly what we need. Humans that live hundreds of years.

    Our population problem is big enough now, and that's with most people never getting to really know their great-grandparents.

    Imagine the over-crowding problem that we would have if everyone from the previous 12 generations in your family were still around.

    No thanks... I'd rather live in a less populated world than have a beer in an extremely overflowing bar with my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-gr eat-great-great-grandfather.

  • It will be a scary day when we learn how to transplant brains between bodies.

    It gives me the willies, almost the same feeling I get when people tell me they use Windoze.
  • Actually, I think it was quite a good point, and I disagree that the answer is a "brain transplant".

    What you're doing is transplanting an individuals' personality. Now what do you consider more important, a person's identity or their physical presence. If their identity defines them, then in a way you've done a lot more than what is conventially meant by the term "transplant". I would argue that the item being replaced is the body, and not the brain. I mean, would you be doing the transplant for the good of the body or for the good of the brain?

    Of course, if you're going to be a pedant, then you're right, semantically. But your scientific (anal?) approach to reading prevents you from seeing the point he was trying to make.

    I bet when you're losing an argument, you're the kind of person who starts to criticise your opponent's use of language in an attempt to avoid having to acknowledge their points.

  • Apologies : This is getting slightly offtopic, and I do not usually write like this, it just seems necessary in this case!

    Actually, I think it was quite a good point, and I disagree that the answer is a "brain transplant".

    Then you are wrong. Period.

    That's your dismissive conclusion because we're talking about different things. You're talking about the meaning of words, whereas I'm talking about the philosophical (note: not physical) implications of his comment, which I believe are interesting enough to warrant discussion, and which you believe are merely worthy of being semantically criticised. Furthermore, they leave you with the impression that they, "should have their competence seriously questioned. ", which I'll come back to at the bottom of this post.

    Accusing me of pedantry simply for expressing myself clearly is quite low, BTW.

    I am indeed, and justifiably I think, accusing you of pedantry. I am not, however, doing it because you explain yourself clearly. Your use of language is obviously very scientific, but this doesn't make you right. The reason I pointed out the pedantic nature of your post was because it belittled a philosophical point in the original message simply because it wasn't expressed in a way that conformed to your linguistic standards.

    Who gives a damn if the words, "body transplant" are not the precise construction required to explain his point? - it doesn't take a genius to see what he was trying to say. Try seeing through the words to the meaning that the poster was trying to impart. He had a point. (I disagree with, "There was no "point" put forward by the post I replied to. The post consisted of a single question. Questions don't express propositions, thus, there was nothing in that post to agree or disagree with" because you once again use linguistic construction to ignore the fact that his question implied a debatable philosophical premise, and even if it was not made explicit in his message, the point was there)

    Since you obviously need it to be made explicit:

    When transplanting a person's brain, is it more meaningful to the individual concerned that his brain has changed, or that his body has changed? Is it correct to assume that the correct point of view is that of the body, or should we consider that of the individual undergoing surgery instead, who will regard the operation as having changed their body rather than their mind - assuming, of course, that the procedure were made possible in the first place.

    Unfortunately, I take no pleasure in discussing things like this when I have to phrase them so drily.

    On the subject of judging people.....

    Statement 1 : you are so arrogant and foolhardy, making judgements about what you have not enough information to judge (like me)
    Statement 2 : you show yourself not to be very bright
    Statement 3 : So anybody who uses such a term should have their competence seriously questioned.

    I rest my case.

  • As might be read, it seems that only the brain can't be transplanted, this is not fully true.

    As by it's complicated nature, the nerves in the backbone can't be transplanted too. It's simply a too complicated task to connect all nerves from the receiving side to the transplant. Hopefully this will once be possible, so partly paralised humans can walk again.

    I'm looking up some information about this, I'll reply to this thread as soon as i've found anything appropriate.

  • You don't have to buy people, just their bodies. There are more young people dying from motor vehicle accidents and gunshots today than rich people dying from old age.
  • When I was a teenager, I accidentaly cut a flap of skin+muscle, about 1/2" long, from my finger. I stuck it back with a band-aid and let it heal. It was about three years before I could feel anything on that part of my finger, even though there wasn't any scar left. So, from my point of view, the answer is: yes, nerves grow. But slo-o-owly.
  • I don't think that this doctor necessarily thinks that doing such a surgery will provide a person with the capability of getting up and walking but would provide nutrients to their brain and thus extend their life.

    You're not really extending their life like that, though. More of a case of simply extending their existance in the current state.
  • Accusing me of pedantry simply for expressing myself clearly is quite low, BTW.

    I think his point is well taken when you narrow the definition by your own words to 'the medical sense' of the word 'transplant'. Granted, the original poster was referring to a medical procedure, but his question was more philosophical than physiological. I am a 'transplant' in the sense that I moved to a different region of the country.

    While your arguments are technically correct, I don't believe you missed the meaning behind the post you originally replied to. It may have been better to point out a better alternative for the word, 'transplant' in this case.

  • "oh the nerve medical doctors have these days..."

    --Nick

  • That sounds like alot of fun. Where'd you read that? Last thing I read about it (I think in pop sci) was that he was able to make individual fingers move, even though he wasn't supposed to (might break stiches). Was he able to actually use it before the body started rejecting it?
  • Well, for those who hadn't read the book, I was hoping to save some of the plot twists that make it an interesting read, but ah well. Yes, looking back at the plot-line, Robert did go a bit overboard on the plot twists, even if they did seem in place at the time.
  • I read a book a while back, a bright guy in scouts gave it to me, probably 3rd or 4th hand by then, and long since passed on, called "I will Fear no Evil", talks about an old millionare near death attempting to cheat death (futilely) by getting his brain transplanted into another's body, and oddly enough, It works. Eventually he wins back his estate from the people in his will due to the fact that he is able to remember everything from his past life (as fingerprints and what not are useless to determine who's brain really went into that skull). Check it out, Robert Heinliken wrote it.
  • The idea is not for the mother's nerve to function in the baby's body, but rather to serve as a pathway for his own good nerves to generate usuable conduits. Timeliness is very important, as adults do not experience much nerve growth. If the procedure is successful, I imagine future patients could donate the nerve themselves, or perhaps a synthetic placeholder could be developed.
  • It's true almost everything except the brain has been transplanted, but it's usually rejected fairly rapidly. The article notes that it'll be about a year before the kid has to stop taking meds, a window in which opportunistic infections could occur. I'd rather see designer nerves created that wouldn't hold any foreign antigens, but nerve engineering hasn't really been worked on enough yet. Still, it's encouraging to see that some progress has been made.
  • Well, how about a *brain dead* body?
    It's often the case that due to severe head injuries the body is functionally healthy, but brain activity has stopped. These patients can survive for very long periods of time because functions such as breathing, the heart pumping and digestive peristalsis are autonomous. That is, they are driven by the brain stem and spinal cord, rather than active brain function.
    The problem that I see is how would you hook up nerves to give you any *senses*? You would have to have something, or be entirely isolated from the world.
    You would be alive, but your *quality* of life would be another matter.
  • Would you call it "brain transplant" or "body transplant"?

    Actually - body transplant. And IIRC, it's been done already. For some terminally ill patients which struggle some advanced degenerative disease (Parkinson or something else) sometimes the body starts to colapse. The only way for the patient to remain living is to transplant the living head to another body. Of course - they won't be able to neurologicaly sense anything from the body nor control it - but they weren't able to do that before either.

  • Here's the way it will work. (yes, I've thought this through!) Get bloody rich. (Important) Clone your body. Get the Brain Transplant, and continue like normal. Then you get hear remarks like "Damn Niles, you look 50 years Younger!"
  • "I Will Fear No Evil"...is actually a feminist manifesto...

    Oh, puhleeeze. I love Heinlein. I grew up reading him, but his women are wet dreams. Smart, funny, bright, daring, sexual (all Good Things), but ultimately serving the males.

  • I'm always glad to see progress in this field- hopefully the long-term results of this surgery will be successful. I just thought this might be a golden opportunity to remind the typically idealistic community of this site that "our" (== the ruling class of powerful countries like the US) understanding of the human nervous system, and many other things about human biology, comes in a big part from harmful experiments performed on third world peasants or prisoners, without their consent or even knowledge. Thus, people in places like Aztlán, Central America, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Haiti, etc., have been exposed to mutagens, radiation, experimental birth-control pills that cause birth defects, etc.

    Thus, there are many among us that have reasons *not* to be glad about the "possibilities" that others at the top of the international food chain may see into this. We can only ask ourselves: what further abomination will be imposed on nuestra gente in the name of "progress"?

  • Would you call it "brain transplant" or "body transplant"?

    This has got to be one of the dumbest ways to try to sound smart ever.

    To transplant means "to remove and put somewhere else". And of course, in the hypthetical operation in question, a brain is removed from a body, and placed in another. Thus, it is a brain transplant.

    A "body transplant" (I can hardly believe I brought myself to actually *write* that oxymoron) would involve removing a body, and putting it in another body. Of course, since the concept of "removing a body" is senseless, there can be no such concept.

  • A classic one: "I found the book on the atom."

    Gee, that was a small book...

  • Actually, I think it was quite a good point, and I disagree that the answer is a "brain transplant".

    Then you are wrong. Period.

    What you're doing is transplanting an individuals' personality.

    No, you're transplanting an individual's brain. In any case, it's not the body you're transplanting.

    Now what do you consider more important, a person's identity or their physical presence. If their identity defines them, then in a way you've done a lot more than what is conventially meant by the term "transplant". I would argue that the item being replaced is the body, and not the brain. I mean, would you be doing the transplant for the good of the body or for the good of the brain?

    All of this is wholly irrelevant. "Transplant" in the medical sense involve taking an organ from one organism's body and putting it in another's. The definition excludes the concept of "body transplant" right off the bat, since a body is not an organ. And it certainly excludes "personalities" or other such mentalistic fictions you seem to reify.

    Of course, if you're going to be a pedant, then you're right, semantically. But your scientific (anal?) approach to reading prevents you from seeing the point he was trying to make.

    There's nothing particularly scientific to my approach. Using words to mean what they mean is an habit by no means exclusive to scientists.

    Accusing me of pedantry simply for expressing myself clearly is quite low, BTW.

    I bet when you're losing an argument, you're the kind of person who starts to criticise your opponent's use of language in an attempt to avoid having to acknowledge their points.

    I hope gambling is illegal in your state, because you wouln't be very successful. Not only because you are so arrogant and foolhardy, making judgements about what you have not enough information to judge (like me), but also because you show yourself not to be very bright in your comment:

    • There was no "point" put forward by the post I replied to. The post consisted of a single question. Questions don't express propositions, thus, there was nothing in that post to agree or disagree with.
    • If anybody in the thread had actually made any "point" to the effect that this operation was a (ugh) "body transplant", how can they be said to have made a point if what they have said, by virtue of the meanings of the words "transplant" and "body", fails to have a sensible meaning?

      Well, technically speaking, if we disregard all that we know about linguistic pragmatics, and take it on plain semantic grounds, it actually *does* have a meaning. But the extension of the term "body transplant" (ugh) is null, thus any proposition which involves it will be either tautologous or contradictory. And while real language use involves a good deal many obvious tautologies ("war is war", "men are men"), it is extremely uncommon for these to involve terms with null extensions. So anybody who uses such a term should have their competence seriously questioned.

  • about the kid born without eyelids. They surgically replaced them from the skin taken when he was circumsized. Yep! The doc said he'd be fine, but he might end up a little cock-eyed.

  • So there is at least one doctor who is ready to do this kind of surgery on a real patient. I think he would only accept candidates that are currently quadriplegics and whose bodies are severely degenerating to the

    This is utter bullshit.

    How are they going to bring a "recently dead" body back to life? Even supposing they were going to sacrifice a living person to do it, could they carefully remove the brain and then replace the new one before the heart reached the point where it will never start again? Are you sure you didn't read this under the name of "Dr. Frankenstien's monster"?
    -

  • Parkinson's disease is caused by degeneration of dopamine producing neurones in a certain area of the brain, and there is some evidence that transplanting dopamine producing cells into this area may help to treat the disease. I think the research you mention involved persuading embryonic stem cells to differentiate into dopamine producing cells in the laboratory, which would then allow a much larger supply of dopamine producing cells for transplantation than if they had to be transplanted directly. I don't think there was any question of these cells growing the proper interconnections with other nerve cells after they had been implanted, so they can only have a fairly crude effect on brain function.

    It is probably better to think of it as a clever way of delivering a drug (dopamine) directly to the part of the brain it is needed in than as anything like a brain transplant.

  • These patients can survive for very long periods of time because functions such as breathing, the heart pumping and digestive peristalsis are autonomous.

    Hearts and stomachs are TinkerToys! (I'm surprised nobody said it yet, and I know that wasn't the exact line, Mr. & Ms. Pedantic.)

    You would have to have something, or be entirely isolated from the world.
    You would be alive, but your *quality* of life would be another matter.


    How about a neuron-Ethernet bridge? Connect to a dedicated server for providing basic senses, with microphone, speakers, webcam, and 'Net access.

    Sure, I'd miss the taste of a medium-rare sirloin from a rusted-out Weber grill in mid-Autumn, but as long as I could get on /., UF, Sluggy Freelance, eBay, my PayPal account, as well as having human communication through the audio subsystem, I'd be just fine.
    Thus sprach DrQu+xum, SID=218745.
  • Charles Guthrie, in 1908, and Vladimir Demikhov in the 1950's successfully transplanted smaller dog heads to the necks of larger dogs. In the early 1970's, Robert J. White [sciam.com], head of neurosurgery at Case Western was the first to successfully transplant the head of one monkey to the body of another monkey whose own head had been removed. You can see a picture of the surgery in progress at http://img.coasttocoastam.com/ img /whitemonkey.jpg [coasttocoastam.com]. His research was also reported on slashdot last year: http://slashdot.org/articles /99 /08/30/2146203.shtml [slashdot.org]. Of course, the usefulness of the procedure is still limited by a) the fact that the surgeons can't yet cause the spinal cord to reconnect successfully, b) immunological rejection.

    For those so inclined, here's some references to the original literature prepared by AJ Annala::

    Subject: REQUEST: Literature on Isolated Brain Perfusion Experiments
    From: A J Annala (annala@neuro.usc.edu)
    Date: Thu 04 Apr 1991 - 08:52:03 BST

    I am writing a review paper describing the history (through the present day) of experiments designed to provide artificial support for maintaining normal brain activity following total circulatory or respiratory collapse. The ultimate goal of such research is to preserve normal brain function across lengthly periods (weeks/months) of cardiac or respiratory arrest.

    There is a very substantial scientific literature (a brief chronology of which is provided below) describing an increasingly successfull series of experiments where animal brains have been supported by artificial methods after complete circulatory and respiratory failure.

    If you are aware of any additional literature which should be included in this review or if you have comments regarding the appropriateness of this technology for current laboratory / distant future human clinical therapy please reply with an email note to annala@neuro.usc.edu.

    -------------------------------------------------- -----------------------------

    • 1812 -- Legallois put forth the original idea for resuscitating decapitated heads through the use of blood transfusion.
    • 1836 -- Cooper showed in rabbits that compression of the carotid and vertebral arteries leads to death of an animal; such deaths can be prevented if the circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain is rapidly restored.
    • 1857 -- Brown-Sequard decapitated a dog, waited ten minutes, attached four rubber tubes to the arterial trunks of the head, and injected blood containing oxygen by means of a syringe. Two or three minutes later voluntary movements of the eyes and muscles of the muzzle resumed. After cessation of oxygenated blood transfusion movements stopped.
    • 1887 -- Laborde made what appears to be first recorded attempt to revive the heads of executed criminals by connecting the carotid artery of the severed human head to the carotid artery of a large dog. According to Laborde's account, in isolated experiments a partial restoration of brain function was attained.
    • 1912 -- Heymans maintained life in an isolated dog's head by connecting the carotid artery and jugular vein of the severed head to the carotid artery and jugular vein of another dog. Partial functioning in the severed head was maintained for a few hours.
    • 1928 -- Bryukhonenko and Cechulin showed life could be maintained in the severed head of a dog by connecting the carotid artery and jugular vein to an artificial circulation machine.

    -------------------------------------------------- -----------------------------

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    • Demikhov-VP. Transplantation of the Head. "Experimental Transplantation of Vital Organs". Consultants Bureau, New York (1962) translated from Russian by Basil Haigh.
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    • *Sloviter-HA, Kamimoto-T. Erythrocyte substitute for perfusion of brain. Nature (lond) 216:458-460 (1967).
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    • *White-RJ, Albin-MS, Yashon-D, Verdura-J, Austin-JC, Austin-PE-Jr, Demian-YK. Autoregulation in the isolated brain during profound hypothermia and hypercarbia. Brain and Blood Flow (Ross-RW ed). Pitman, London. pp.209 (1970).
    • Horst-WD, Jester-J. The use of isolated perfused rat brain in a study of 14-C-L-Dopa metabolism. Life Sci 10(I):685-689 (1971).
    • *Jahnchen-E, Krieglstein-J. Die aufnahme von promazin, chlorpromazin und deren desmethylmetaboliten in das isoliert perfundierte rattenhirn. Naunyn- Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmak 268:300-309 (1971).
    • Mukherji-B, Turinsky-J, Sloviter-HA. Effects of perfusion without glucose on amino acids and glycogen of isolated rat brain. J Neurochem 18:1783-1785 (1971).
    • Sloviter-HA, Yamada-H. Absence of direct action of insulin on metabolism of the isolated perfused rat brain. J Neurochem 18:1269-1274 (1971).
    • White-RJ, Wolin-LR, Massopust-LC, Taslitz-N, Verdura-J. Primate cephalic transplantation: neurogenic separation, vascular association. Transplantation Proceedings 3:602-604 (1971).
    • Vasan-NS, Abraham-J, Bachhawat-BK. Sulphate metabolism in acute EAE rats using isolated brain perfusion technique. J Neurochem 18:59-66 (1971).
    • *Zimmer-R, Lang-R, Oberdoister-G. Post-ischaemic reactive hyperaemia of the isolated perfused brain of dog. Pflugers Arch Ges Physiol 328:332-343 (1971).
    • Fleck-WV, Krieglstein-J, Urban-W. Zwei apparaturen zur perfusion des isolierten rattenhirns. Arzneim-Forsch 22:1225-1230 (1972).
    • Ghosh-AK, Mukherji-B, Slovitar-HA. Metabolism of isolated rat brain perfused with glucose or mannose as substrate. J Neurochem 19:1279-1285 (1972).
    • Krieglstein-G, Krieglstein-J, Stock-R. Suitability of the isolated perfused rat brain for studying effects on cerebral metabolism. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Arch Pharmacol 275:124-134 (1972).
    • Krieglstein-G, Krieglstein-J, Urban-W. Long survival time of an isolated perfused rat brain (Short Communication). J Neurochem 19:885-886 (1972).
    • Stock-R, Krieglstein-G, Krieglstein-J. Studies on energy metabolism of an isolated perfused rat brain. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Arch Pharmacol 274:R112 (1972).
    • Zivin-JA, Snarr-JF. A stable preparation for rat brain perfusion: effect of flow rate on glucose uptake. J Appl Physiol 32:658-663 (1972).
    • Zivin-JA, Snarr-JF. Glucose and D(-)-3-hydroxybutyrate uptake by isolated perfused rat brain. J Appl Physiol 32:664-668 (1972).
    • Fleck-W, Krieglstein-J, Reichmann-M. A two-circuit apparatus for the perfusion of the isolated rat brain. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Arch Pharmacol 278:319-322 (1973).
    • Gruner-J, Krieglstein-J, Rieger-H. Comparison of the effects of chloral hydrate and trichloroethanol on the EEG of the isolated perfused rat brain. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Arch Pharmacol 277:333-348 (1973).
    • Krieglstein-J, Stock-R. Comparative study of the effects of chloral hydrate and trichloroethanol on cerebral metabolism. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Arch Pharmacol 277:323-332 (1973).
    • Krieglstein-J, Stock-R, Rieger-H. Influence of therapeutic and toxic doses of neuroleptics and antidepressants on energy metabolism of the isolated perfused rat brain. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Arch Pharmacol 279:243-254 (1973).
    • Krieglstein-J, Stock-R. The isolated perfused rat brain as a model for studying drugs acting on the CNS. Psychopharmacologia 35:169-177 (1974).
    • White-RJ. Hypothermic preservation and transplantation of brain. Resuscitation 4:197 (1975).
    • Woods-HF, Graham-CW, Green-AR, Youdim-MBH, Grahame-Smith-DG, Highes-JT. Some histological and metabolic properties of an isolated perfused rat brain preparation with special reference to monoamine metabolism. Neuroscience 1:313-323 (1976).
    • Woods-HF, Youdim-MBH. The isolated perfused rat brain preparation--a critical assessment. Essays Neurochem Neuropharmacol 3:49-69 (1978).
    • Dirks-B, Krieglstein-J, Lind-HH, Rieger-H, Schutz-H. Fluorocarbon perfusion medium applied to the isolated rat brain. J Pharm Methods 4:95-108 (1980).
    • *Llinas-R, Yarom-Y, Sugimori-M. Isolated mammalian brain in vitro: new technique for analysis of electrical activity of neuronal circuit function. Fed Proc 40(8)-2240-2245 (1981).
    • Shapovalov-AI, Shiriaev-BI, Tamarova-ZA. "A study of neuronal activity of mammalian superfused or intra-arterially perfused CNS preparations." Electrophysiology of isolated mammalian CNS preparations (Kerkut-GA, Wheal-HV eds). pp 367-394 (1981).
    --------------End of Annala's List -----------------------------------
    • Acta Endocrinol Suppl (Copenh) 1972;158:200-16 Preparation and mechanical perfusion of the isolated monkey brain. White RJ
    • White RK, Albin MS, Locke GE, Davidson E. Brain transplantation: prolonged survival of brain after carotid-jugular interposition. Science. 1965 Nov 5;150(697):779-81.
    • White RJ, Wolin LR, Massopust LC Jr, Taslitz N, Verdura J. Primate cephalic transplantation: neurogenic separation, vascular association. Transplant Proc. 1971 Mar;3(1):602-4.
    • White RJ. Brain transplantation. Surg Neurol. 1985 Apr;23(4):449.
    • Krieglstein G, Krieglstein J, Urban W. Long survival time of an isolated perfused rat brain. J Neurochem. 1972 Mar;19(3):885-6.
    • White RJ, Wolin LR, Massopust LC Jr, Taslitz N, Verdura J. Cephalic exchange transplantation in the monkey. Surgery. 1971 Jul;70(1):135-9.

    Spinal cord repair:

    • M. E. Schwab and D. Bartholdi. "Degeneration and regeneration of axons in the lesioned spinal cord." Physiol. Rev. 76 (2): 319-370 (1996).
    • M.E. Schwab. "Bridging the gap in spinal cord regeneration." Nature Med. 2 (9): 976-977. 1996.
  • There was a special issue of Scientific American that was published either this last summer or the previous summer and it was on life extension. One of the articles was about brain transplantation. Apparently there is one doctor who is willing to perform this kind of surgery but it apparently has to be under the right conditions in order for him to agree to perform it. It sounds like many people have already asked him to perform this sort of operation (mostly in Russia) but he isn't willing until the right conditions are available.

    What are the right conditions? Well besides having a live patient and a recently dead donor body it sounds like he needs an operating room that is twice the size of a regular one so that they don't have to move from one room to another so that they can quickly move a few feet rather than a couple of yards.

    So there is at least one doctor who is ready to do this kind of surgery on a real patient. I think he would only accept candidates that are currently quadriplegics and whose bodies are severely degenerating to the point where they need a new body or will die. I don't think that this doctor necessarily thinks that doing such a surgery will provide a person with the capability of getting up and walking but would provide nutrients to their brain and thus extend their life.

  • What you didn't mention is that the man's brain went into a fine young hottie. And so after the operation, he/she proceeds to fuck every former friend, business asociate, and well wisher who comes along. I love Heinlein, don't get me wrong, but I had to put this one down when the slut started banging almost every male character in the book. Got the feeling I was reading a dirty old man's whack-off material. Is it even possible to get aroused by shit you wrote yourself? Whatever, all I know is that I had never regretted buying a Heinlein book before this one.

    "...Homer is building a ladder, but it is of poor quality..." - Bart Simpson
  • Soon we could have brains of people like Kasporov and even Bill Gates on the block at Southby's website available for transplant. Wonder how much they'd fetch.
  • How about transplanting FreeBSD into the Macintosh?
  • Interesting stuff innit?

    Theres been an interesting series running on the BBC about the miraculous abilities of the body, superhuman [bbc.co.uk], and one of those episodes was about stem cells.

    Apparently, these stem cells "know" what cells need replacing and change themselves into them. Even spinal cords can be replaced this way, although its like joining wires at random.

    If you think about it, joining nerves at random should work -- the brain should be able to relearn to use new wiring as it's a neural system, it would just take some time and patience.

    Fascinating :)



    ~matt~
    0
    o
    .
    ><>
  • Being a jerk , he hasn't followed the post-op processes set out and the hand is now rejecting him.
  • I'm always glad to see progress in this field- hopefully the long-term results of this surgery will be successful. There's an interesting article I read a few months ago on the successful cross-species transplant of Schwann cells from a pig to a mouse- check it out here [office.com].
    ---
  • unfortunately, there are way to many senile old people with LOTS of money, and they'd be the people that could afford to buy some young bimbo and have their brain transplanted into them.

  • I know of quite a few people especially in politics that could use a good brain transplant. or at least some new conections made to the part of the brain that makes you realize "oh yeah, duh, i'm an ass hole. thats why i smell so bad, and when ever i speak people everywhere shudder"
  • This just proves that the events in "They Saved Hitler's Brain" are just that much closer to reality...

    -----------------
  • We dont really know much about them yet. Paraplegics and quadruplegics often are able to regain some sensitivity in nerves with repeated stimulation and practice. I hope that this operation gives some insight into the development of nerves. How do nerves grow in children?/How does a nerve integrate into an already existing system when transplanted?

  • I recently watched a nerve transplant and other gruesome but cool microsurgeries on the Discovery Channel. The show was called something like "Micro Machines". Maybe you can catch a rerun. In addition to the nerve transplant, they re-attached a finger and removed a mass from the inside of an eyeball. It was fascinating to see how they do it.
  • Posted by timothy on Monday November 20, @02:39AM
    from the with-extra-nerves-i'd-meet-girl-X-in-the-bookstore dept.

    Heh, I think a lot of people can relate to that..

  • by gik (256327)
    When I was born, I was pulled out by my arm. It was a wierd situation to say the least.

    The nerves of a kid at that time are so delicate that they just got torn to shreds.

  • Ok, first of all doing brain transplants would open up a Pandora's box of problems. Ex: Ethics issues... Military: Alright, we can send some excellent spies in by kidnapping the body and putting our agents brain in there. Criminals: Hey man, got this nice looking body for you. I just smashed his brains in a while ago. Religious: Ok, now where is that soul located....Your all going to go to hell!!! TG community response: Woo hoo!! Religious response. Your all going to hell!!! Medical issues aka problems... would be that though you're a 70 year old in the body of a 18 year old your brain is still 70. You have corroded arties in the brain. Therefore you'll only live for so long. One night on the town with some college students would probably cause a stroke. Yes, there was animal testing in the 60's and 70's with brain transplants....Only problem was the animals died shortly after. People with transplants of any kind usually have to take large doses of drugs to counteract rejection because the foreign tissue in their system and most of the time it leads to the inevitable rejection anyway. Ok, now we solve the problem with cloning. Now the ethics nuts would probably say, that's immoral. Well, it probably would be, if you consider this: Currently we cannot do a full body adult clone now. Step 1: So we pay some women from ex, a low paying country to conceive a clone. Lab kids in completely artificial wombs are not possible yet. Step 2: You must raise the clone in some sort of environment other than just sitting brain dead non-mobile in a lab all day or the muscles would atrophy. I suppose constant shock treatment would work, although would you want a body that would take you 10 years to get into shape, that may alright have cancer from 18 years of exposure to shock treatment. Then you could have that lovely nervous twitch in your new body J Step 3: Find a Doctor nutty enough to do the operation. Oh yeah for those TG people up there, just add or subtract a chromosome on a close....Easy as pie...heh heh
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The problem in this case is that the nerves of the left arm were torn from the spinal cord. So the hookup had to be from nerves in the right arm across to the left which is longer than they could have gotten from any nerves in the baby. The transplanted nerves will only provide a conduit down which the baby's own nerve cells will grow at ~ 1 mm. per day. The mother's own nerve cells will play no part in the process - only the structure through which her nerve cells passed are important and will provide the conduit. Since the baby is so small his own nerves will arrive at their destination well before the 2 year time limit after which a nerve transplant wouldn't work. Whether this procedure using a live donor will work better than a cadaver remains to be seen. The problem with nerve transplants in general is the scar formation where the nerves are hooked together which impedes the growth of the nerve cells. A retired neurosurgeon
  • The Meaning of Life

    Part 5

    Live Organ Donation

    ...
    Just Remember that you're standing / On a planet that's evolving ... etc
  • Seems like we can now transplant just about everything short of the brain

    Actually, there's a company offering brain transplants here [216.247.9.207]. I've had it done three times now, and I've NUT n0TiSSeDD aY-KnEe sIyD FekTs YeTTT.



    --
  • I remember that experiment being reported. I believe the biggest problem was that both monkeys died within hours of the procedure being carried out.

    I don't know about anyone else, but if I'm having a head-swap I'm going to want a life expetancy a little longer than "maybe he'll make it 'til lunch-time"!

    --
  • Well Mrs. Smith, it appears that either your husbands new body is rejecting his head, or your husbands head is rejecting his new body. We're unsure as to which one to amputate.

    --
  • I think the original poster's question was intended in the sense of a classic problem in personal identity: If person A has his brain transplanted into the body of person B (B-body-person), after the operation, would the B-body-person be person A or person B from before the operation, or neither?

    I think a lot of people would call it a body transplant (and not a brain transplant)--leaning toward the conclusion that B-body-person is indeed person A, because of the sameness of brain.

    There's a collection called Personal Identity edited by John Perry that covers a wide range of problems like this if anyone's so interested ;) I've got this on the brain, so to speak, since I'm reading Slashdot to put off writing a draft of my final on Personal Identity :P

  • In the article, one of the doctors is quoted saying:

    The infant's good nerves from the right side of his body will grow slowly through the mother's nerves over to his left arm. Her nerves are not providing any function. They are serving as conduits, pathways to direct the child's own nerves to grow back together.

    So, the transplanted nerves can help damaged (torn, in this case) repair themselves, while serving no actual nerve functions? I didn't think nerves could self-repair, but then, IANAD by any stretch of the imagination. However, this would suggest real hope for paralysis victims (as the result of certain kinds of accidents/nerve damage). Or am I misunderstanding the doctor's statement?
  • I didn't think nerves could self-repair, but then, IANAD by any stretch of the imagination. However, this would suggest real hope for paralysis victims (as the result of certain kinds of accidents/nerve damage). Or am I misunderstanding the doctor's statement?

    No, you've about got it dead on. I first learned of this technique several years ago. Tests were performed on mice, where nerves were strung between two ends of a damaged nerve bundle, providing a pathway for the nerves to regenerate.

    The nerve bundle being regenerated was the spinal cord.

    The operation worked; the mice regained some movement in their hind legs.

    Hope springs eternal, for good reason.
    -------------
  • nanotechnology.. who cares. it's a philosophical question.
  • I asked it then and I'll ask it again, if I die in a violent accident and they get me to the hospital fast enough, can they graft my head onto some recently departed (and not as well off) body and keep my ass alive until they figure out how to graft my spinal cord too? So I get to be a vegetable for 25 years instead of being dead?
  • In another post on ths topic I described a technique my dad recently used that required transferring 1/5 of the nerves leading to the patient's arm to the other one. According to the results gained so far the patients had no loss in movement or sensitivity.
    I don't know what nerves (and how much of them) they used, but if they do it right it shouldn't be a problem.
    They probably used cadavers because they don't need treatment afterwards 8) and for legal reasons.
  • As was mentioned in previous posts, the mothers nerves werent meant to carry signals but to provide a healthy path for the childs nerves to grow. most people believe nerves dont grow back at all. i know someone who had their finger nearly cut off. the doctors re-attached it, but nerves were of course severed. part of the nerves were missing from the saw cut and the doctors said that the nerves would grow back properly (hopefully) at the rate of about a millimeter a month. his finger had no sensation for a while, but about 4 months later, he could feel his skin again.

  • I was appalled to read that this nerve damage occurs in about 1 in 1000 births -- was this an error, or is this figure accurate? Does it occur primarily because of the use of forceps, or is it a result of the natural squeezing the baby goes through?
  • From the article:

    in most cases, the nerves were taken from cadavers.

    I find this even more amazing. I know, I know, the implanted nerves just act as conduits for regrowth, but still, being able to implant nerves coming from dead people is pretty amazing. Reminds me of science fiction books where they talk about criminals being executed by dissassembly (no dissassemble, Stephanie!), and raise the question of whether the convict is truly dead.

    I know, I'm reading too much into the implanting of dead nerves, but I just got up, so I'm easily impressed right now.

  • If you misspell this name it means you are missing some of the best parts of English literature. Try to read also "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Stranger in a Strange Land".

    The story in "I Will Fear No Evil" is a bit more complex than you mention, actually he was able to remember a lot from the body donor's memory too. And the donor was a woman; this book is actually a feminist manifesto, where an old male finds himself inside the body of a young woman.

    You may not agree with everything Heinlein wrote, for instance, I find the militarism in "Starship Troopers" a bit too much, but you will often find yourself thinking new ideas when you read his books.

  • ...but close. Hasn't there been some rather controversial research involving "stem cells" from fetuses? IIRC, they can be placed in certain parts of the brain, where they will differentiate into neurons.

  • this is all interesting and everything, but so far no results (obviously, as it just happened). The problem with these stories is that there is rarely ever a follow up. Remember the quintuplets a while back that were all the rave? Where are they now? More importantly, how did that hand/arm transplant go with that prisoner that they had an article in Popular Science a couple months back? Anybody know what ever happened to that guy?
  • The identical procedure was done about a year ago at Texas Children's Hospital, just a few blocks away, by a different surgical team, and was reported in the Texas Medical Center's newspaper (my wife illustrated the article). I think the origin site of the donor nerve was different, but that's not a significant difference.

    Apparently, science journalism isn't keeping up with reality very well, though I've noticed that a few articles on the recent transplant have been corrected to mention the earlier procedure. I bet TCH's PR people are raising a ruckus...

  • Two arm transplants were recently carried out. The first one was on the ex-prisoner, who lied and said he was a businessman, when he had infact lost his arm in a prison accident. Well, he now hates his 'arm' and wants them to take it off. He says it is too pink, too long and just hangs there (hey, doesn't that give you an idea?...) Anyway, the doctors say that his problem is psychological not physical. He did not carry out the post-op treatment plan, and did not take the anti-rejection drugs as he said they had bad side effects. I think that his mind is rejecting the arm, as much as his brain.

    The second operation was on a man who was transplanted the arm of a executed murderer. He and the arm have taken to each other much better, as he followed the doctors' orders, and he can now pick things up etc with it.

    But it all sounds SO Vincent Price to me, what with all these prisoners and murderers having body parts grafted on to them. Creepy.
  • The article notes that this procedure has been carried out before in the US, with tissue from cadavers. why use a live donor who is going to suffer side-effects later? Could it be purely proof-of-concept, or is it just a coincidence that the donor here happens to be from Mexico, and not the US ?

    If anyone knows the rationale for using a live donor, please fill us in. I can imagine there would be some reasons to want to use live donors, but the article just doesn't say.
  • I can't help but think of MST3K and the Atomic Brain.

    wow...lets just hope that never comes true. i shudder at the thought of the brain of an old nasty lady in a young ladies body. (but it isn't really inhumain, because the ditzy blond didn't have much of a brain anyways.)

  • There was an experiement done about a year ago I believe. Using two monkeys they successfully transplanted the heads of the two onto each other's bodies. While we obvious can't test the minds of the monkeys as well as we can humans, it appeared they functioned fine and still remembered things such as how solve a certain puzzle. Amazing if you ask me, but it's just one step closer to humans living for several hundreds of years.
  • by gik (256327)
    Due to an accident at birth, I had extensive nerve damage stemming from the back of my neck down through my left shoulder and arm.
    As a result, my left arm is smaller, and significantly less able than the right one.

    It's hard sometimes to do everyday things, but you get by.

    Now to see that nerve regeneration (or stimulation) may become reality, I feel excited. Hopefully, kids in the future will not have to go through what many have gone through in the past.

    One question, though...

    WHERE DO I SIGN UP?!?!?!?

    hehe
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Monday November 20, 2000 @03:48AM (#613375) Homepage
    I'm surprised that people haven't suggested that there has been a number of living-donor brain transplants, going on in secret. You've met the donors, of course. They can't be allowed out in public, but in order to give them some human contact, they let the donors post to Slashdot.
    -russ
  • by dbarclay10 (70443) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @10:19PM (#613376)
    Yeah, there's a pretty common misconception that nerves can't repair themselves. There's also another misconception that a human brain can't/doesn't repair/grow after a certain age.

    Both are wrong. Brain development slows to an absolute crawl, comparitively speaking, after youth. But it still grows and changes.

    Now, nerve cells in the rest of the body generally don't repair themselves, but that's not a hard and fast rule. For instance, pain receptors are hooked up by nerve cells, and when you loose a chunk of skin(including muscule beneath it), you can still feel pain afterwards.

    Dave

    'Round the firewall,
    Out the modem,
    Through the router,
    Down the wire,
  • by jmv (93421) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @09:45PM (#613377) Homepage
    Seems like we can now transplant just about everything short of the brain

    Would you call it "brain transplant" or "body transplant"?
  • by ndpatel (185409) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @11:15PM (#613378) Homepage
    [the mother]...will have permamnent but slight numbness on the sides of her feet...

    not only will his mom hit him with the whole "pain of birth" argument when his room is messy, she'll light her feet on fire to drive home the point of what an ungrateful little bastard he is.....
  • (in this case the mother of the recipient, an 8-month old baby)

    I know the saying "Kids having kids" but an 8 month old mother is just wrong!

    Geoff

  • by antdude (79039) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @10:19PM (#613380) Homepage Journal
    That was an interesting story. When I had my cranial surgery (due to my locked jaw -- had to open my jaw -- it was so bad that I couldn't stick my tongue out), the doctors had to break some nerves to fix this (from my neck and right side of my head near the ear area).

    After the complex surgery, the right side of my face were irressponsive (i.e. couldn't move and feel). That included my right eye where I couldn't move my eye lids (not even close fully).

    After about two months, I went to another surgery to fix these damaged facial nerves. The doctors fixed this by connecting working nerves to the damaged ones. Basically, they were rerouting these signals as if you were rerouting a network.

    Some of my broken nerves are currently recovered, but it will take years to recovered almost fully (not 100%).

    You can read more details from here [apu.edu].
  • by Sara Chan (138144) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @10:02PM (#613381)
    If you go to the trouble of actually reading the CNN story, you find out that it is not a real nerve transplant. Nerves in the infant's left arm were damaged, and the mother's nerves were put inside the infant, but ...
    "Her nerves are
    not providing any function. They are serving as conduits, pathways to direct the child's own nerves to grow back together."
    (emphasis added)

    The mother's nerves do not carry any of the electro-chemical signals that the infant could use to move or feel its arm.

    ______________
    "Is it a book you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?" --prosecuting lawyer, for the British government, arguing against permitting publication of D. H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterly's Lover" (1960)

  • by B00yah (213676) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @09:45PM (#613382) Homepage
    That's gonna make it hard for the mother to say, "You're getting on my nerves"...if her kid's got 'em...

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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