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Head transplants performed by robots planned within the decade

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Head transplants performed by robots planned within the decade

In what sounds more like the opening scene from a B-grade sci-fi/horror flick, head transplant operations performed entirely by robotic surgeons could be coming to a hospital near you within a decade, if startup BrainBridge is to be believed.

It’s the brainchild – pun very much intended – of Hashem Al-Ghaili, the Berlin-based molecular biologist turned film-maker, producer, author and science communicator who you might remember from 2022 when he proposed a futuristic, rather dystopian artificial-womb baby-making factory called EctoLife.

His latest venture, BrainBridge, plans to use high-speed robotic systems to preserve brain condition while a head is transplanted onto a compatible donor body. (Doesn’t then make this a body transplant? We guess there are a few more pertinent questions to ponder here first…)

We feel it might be fit to premise this conceptual video with a content warning…

Head Transplant Machine – BrainBridge

In a move that makes Neuralink seem like a scalp massage, Al-Ghaili wants to do whole head and face operations to give people with severe disability a new lease on life. The surgery would be driven by AI algorithms directing the many robotic arms to remove the head and attach it to the new torso, reconnecting the spinal cord, nerves and blood vessels. And proprietary chemical adhesive and polyethylene glycol would be used to reconnect severed neurons.

“I’m thrilled to announce BrainBridge, the world’s first concept for a head transplant system, which integrates advanced robotics and artificial intelligence to execute complete head and face transplantation procedures,” Al-Ghaili announced on (where else but) social media. “This state-of-the-art system offers new hope to patients suffering from untreatable conditions such as stage-4 cancer, paralysis, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

Al-Ghaili first hinted at his bold new science project on X late last year, and has said the eight-year roadmap to the first surgery gives him time to recruit “top talent to overcome current challenges” in medicine, like the difficulty of spinal cord repair. He’s said he wants BrainBridge to start with successful spinal cord surgeries, before moving on to the head/body transplant business.

However, the medical science community has been rather quiet in response to the hard launch of BrainBridge.

It’s not the first time the promise of head transplants has been proposed, with controversial Italian doctor Sergio Canavero failing to deliver on his promise of this surgery happening as early as 2017. The furthest he got was swapping body parts on two cadavers. Like Nicolas Cage and John Travolta in Face/Off, if you will.

Still, you have to give Al-Ghaili credit for his imaginative plan to get a-head in the experimental transplant field. (Sorry.)

“BrainBridge will be able to conduct face and scalp transplantation to restore functionality and aesthetic appearance,” the startup’s light-on-detail website states. “Younger donor tissues reduce the risk of rejection and enhance appearance, with meticulous suturing and post-operative care to promote healing and minimize scarring.”

The site stresses that BrainBridge is “in the conceptual phase,” so you’re fresh out of luck if you’re hoping to add your name to a wait list for this one.

Oh, and if you missed EctoLife’s fever-dream baby factory promotional video, do yourself a favor…

EctoLife: The World’s First Artificial Womb Facility

Source: BrainBridge

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