Update: New Scientist reported Feb. 25, 2015, that Dr. Sergio Canavero
will announce at a conference in June a project to make the first human head transplant possible by 2017.
Technical barriers to grafting one person's head onto another person's body can now be overcome, says Dr. Sergio Canavero, a member of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group.
In a recent paper, Canavero
outlines a procedure modeled on successful head transplants which have been carried out in animals since 1970.
The one problem with these transplants was that scientists were unable to connect the animals' spinal cords to their donor bodies, leaving them paralyzed below the point of transplant.
But, says Canavero
, recent advances in re-connecting spinal cords that are surgically severed mean that it should be technically feasible to do it in humans. (This is not the same as restoring nervous system function to quadriplegics or other victims of traumatic spinal cord injury.)
hypothesizes that plastics like polyethylene glycol (PEG) could be used to accomplish this fusing, citing previous research showing that, for example, in dogs PEG allowed the fusing of severed spinal cords.