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This profile was last updated on 4/12/15  and contains information from public web pages.

Dr. Sergio Canavero

Wrong Dr. Sergio Canavero?

Italian Neurosurgeon

Local Address: Turin, Italy

Employment History

  • Director
    Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member
    Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group
98 Total References
Web References
As bizarre as the idea of ..., 12 April 2015 [cached]
As bizarre as the idea of a full human head transplant sounds, Canavero, of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, has said he is ready to proceed with the operation reminiscent of the horror story "Frankenstein." He had announced (see video) his intention to conduct the transplant and outlined the procedure he intends to adopt in a paper titled "The 'Gemini' spinal cord fusion protocol: Reloaded," published in February 2015, in the online journal Surgical Neurology International (SNI). He also said that he plans to launch the project at the June, 2015 annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons (AANOS), scheduled to hold in Maryland, U.S. in June. Although, Canavero said he has secured part of the funding for the project, he declined to reveal the source of funding. But he will use the opportunity of the AANOS meeting to seek professional partners and an academic medical center to host the surgery. He is bound to face obstacles, judging from the response of U.S. medical experts so far. If he is unable to find partners in the U.S., he may have to seek help in China, CNN reports. The prospective patient Valey Spiridonov, a computer scientist who works for an IT firm in the Russian city of Vladimir, told RT, "I'm very interested in technology, and anything progressive that might change people's lives for the better." Spiridonov volunteers to be the first human head transplant subject Spiridonov volunteers to be the first human head transplant subject YouTube/Ruptly He said that with his incurable condition, which involves progressive spinal atrophy, getting worse and considering the fact that people with his muscle-wasting condition, called Werdnig-Hoffman disease, usually don't live longer than 20 years, his only chance to prolong his life and help the cause of scientific research is to undergo the controversial surgery. Speaking with RT, Canavero compared the risk of the proposed surgery with the risk Russia took when the nation sent Yury Gagarin into space and the U.S. sent Neil Armstrong to the Moon.
Dr. Sergio Canavero delivers Tedx Talk Dr. Sergio Canavero delivers Tedx Talk YouTube/Tedx Talk He said, "Russia sent Yury Gagarin into space with fair chances of dying.
But despite having publicly identified Spridonov as the prospective patient, Canavero and Spiridonov had only talked on Skype and have never met in person.
Neither has Canavero reviewed Spiridonov's medical records. But Canavero insists that his first patient would be a person suffering from a muscle-wasting disease and revealed that many transsexuals who want a new body have indicated interest. Canavero told RT that the operation will last up to 36 hours, require a medical staff of 150, including doctors and nurses, and cost about $11 million.
And skeptics appear to have genuine reasons to warn about the dangers of Canavero's planned surgery. Previous attempts at head transplants, mostly in the last century, have involved dogs and monkeys that survived only a few days after the bodies rejected their new heads. In his SNI publication, Canavero cited an experimental transplant by Dr. Robert White about 45 years ago.
But Canavero insists that recent developments make it possible to overcome some of the technical problems that White faced.
More about Head, human head transplant, Russian, Sergio Canavero
Italian neurosurgeon Sergio ..., 25 Feb 2015 [cached]
Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sergio Canavero, the Italian neurosurgeon who is proposing to carry out the first human head (or body) transplant, is well aware of the ethical and philosophical issues posed by such an operation.
"The 'chimera' would carry the mind of the recipient but, should he or she reproduce, the offspring would carry the genetic inheritance of the donor," Dr Canavero wrote in 2013, when he first proposed that it would be two years before we see the first human head transplant.
Two years later, Dr Canavero has made the news again by proposing that it will take only two further years of research until we are transplanting the head from a patient with a broken body on to the neatly severed neck of a donor's freshly-dead cadaver.
"It will always be two years," he tells me, by telephone from Italy, where he heads the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group. "That's how long I need to organise the crew of surgeons."
Science News in Pictures
Few other neurosurgeons go along with Dr Canavero's optimistic timeline, and a substantial number believe that such on operation could never be contemplated. Connecting blood vessels and tissues are not so much the problem, it's the fusing of one spinal cord to another so that the brain can communicate with the rest of the body. Dr Canavero, however, is adamant.
"We have the technology to do this right now in humans… we just need the ethical approval and the funding to do it," he says. He believes it could be done by cooling the bodies of both donor and recipient to the point of hypothermia. Once this has happened, the two spinal cords could be severed neatly with ultra-sharp blades and bathed in polyethylene glycol to help them anneal correctly, so that the head can communicate to its new body, and vice versa.
"This is of course totally different from what happens in clinical spinal cord injury, where gross damage and scarring hinder regeneration. This 'clean cut' is the key to spinal cord fusion," Dr Canavero says.
Dr Canavero, however, suggests that it would be better suited to younger people suffering from conditions that leave the brain and mind intact but cause devastating damage to the body, such as progressive muscular dystrophies.
"They are a source of huge suffering, with no cure in hand," he says. "I really believe it will be done. It will be the new space race of the 21st century with America and China competing to be first."
But Dr Canavero is something of a lone voice.
The report chronicles the plan for ..., 14 April 2015 [cached]
The report chronicles the plan for the surgery led by Dr. Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group (TANG).
Canavero is said to estimate the procedure will required 100 surgeons approximately 36 hours to complete and will involve spinal cord fusion (SCF) and the removal of the donor head from its current body with an "ultra-sharp blade" to limit the amount of damage the spinal cord sustains.
In a paper published earlier in 2015, Canavero explained that "the key to SCF is a sharp severance of the cords themselves, with its attendant minimal damage to both the axons in the white matter and the neurons in the gray laminae. This is a key point. The spinal cord of the donor body would be fused with the spinal cord of the recipient's head (with chemicals such as polyethylene glycol or chitosan employed to encourage spinal cord fusion) before the muscles and blood supply were sutured. The recipient of the new body would be kept in a coma for 3-4 weeks afterwards while the spinal cord was subject to electrical stimulation via implanted electrodes in to boost the new nerve connections.
Dr. Canavero optimistically estimates that the patient (with a good deal of physical therapy) would be able to walk within one year.
Dr. Sergio Canavero details ..., 27 Feb 2015 [cached]
Dr. Sergio Canavero details such a procedure in New Scientist -- a British weekly science magazine -- and says the ability exists to successfully perform the transplant, which involves literally mounting a patient's head onto a donor's body. From that point forward, the only part of the patient's body that would belong to the one they were born with would be that from the neck up.
The Frankenstein-like procedure would involve substantial preparation, major surgery and weeks of healing, Dr. Canavero says, but it is doable. Britain's Telegraph reported Canavero's claims Thursday, which have also been published for peer review in this month's Surgical Neurology International journal.
According to Canavero, both the recipient's head and the donor's body would require cooling at the start of the procedure to lengthen the time the body's cells can survive without oxygen. Blood vessels would be joined by tubes and the spinal cords of each body cut before the patient's head is placed onto the donor's body.
At that point, Canavero says, the spinal cord would be fused together with the aid of polyethylene glycol -- a chemical that helps fat within membranes to mesh.
Following the surgery, the patient would be placed into a medically-induced coma for about a month so the body can heal without movement. Dr. Canavero said the patient would likely be able to move their extremities and speak in their own voice immediately upon awakening -- and begin walking within a year's time.
While it might seem remarkable that such a procedure might ever be performed successfully in any of our lifetimes, Canavero believes it could be accomplished in just two years -- if the medical community supports it.
"I'm trying to go about this the right way, but before going to the moon, you want to make sure people will follow you," Canavero said.
"He wants to use the surgery to extend the lives of people whose muscles and nerves have degenerated or whose organs are riddled with cancer," New Scientist said in publishing Canavero's work. "He claims the major hurdles, such as fusing the spinal cord and preventing the body's immune system from rejecting the head, are surmountable, and the surgery could be ready as early as 2017."
Canavero, a member of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, told New Scientist he plans to unveil the radical procedure in June at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons conference in Maryland. The hope is to get interested parties together and work toward making the surgery a reality.
Canavero told New Scientist that several people have already volunteered to receive a new body.
"We all know that, for instance, in 1903 the Wright Brothers flew their first plane when every single scientist at the time believed that was totally impossible," Dr. Canavero told Britain's Sky News Thursday. "I don't believe the word 'impossible.'"
Surprisingly, the concept of a head transplant isn't anything new. Scientists performed one on a monkey in 1970, but the animal ultimately died after only nine days because its immune system rejected the new head.
Canavero proposed the idea two years ago but most experts dismissed the idea. It's not yet known whether any of his colleagues will feel differently this time around.
"The real stumbling block is the ethics," Canavero said. "Should this surgery be done at all?
"I think there are a lot of areas that a head transplant can be used, but I disagree with Canavero on the timing.
Surgeon Sergio Canavero, ... [cached]
Surgeon Sergio Canavero, director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy has hypothesized a method to transplant a human head from one body to another. This is all speculation right now, though Canavero has published his theories and lays out a plausible plan.
Canavero has planned for this undesirable result. After connecting the spinal cord, it would then be flushed with polyethylene glycol - a binding agent for the fat in cell membranes. Injections of the polyethylene glycol would then continue for several hours before stitching everything up. To prevent the tearing of stitches or other movement-based problems the patient would stay in a medically induced coma for a few weeks while the spine would be stimulated with electricity in an attempt to make a stronger connection between the newly formed spinal cord.
You won't be up and dancing around immediately, but Canavero believes that with therapy the patient could be walking within a year. He intends to start testing his process on brain dead organ donors, with several backup plans if the polyethylene glycol proves unsuccessful.
Dr. Canavero understands that this idea may make people uncomfortable. He understands that it may never become a reality.
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