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Thanks to medical advances, we can use things like organ transplants and mechanical ventilators to keep us alive – we can even resuscitate a heart that’s stopped beating. So why can’t we bring a brain back to life? Well, our brains are made up of trillions of connections, and generating new brain cells or neurons is complicated. The research, and methods, are pretty controversial. The results – bringing a seemingly brain dead person back to life – could have huge implications. Procedures also come with a big risk of making things worse and they raise ethical questions. Would you elect to have a brain cell transplant?
Falkner, S., Grade, S., Dimou, L., Conzelmann, K. K., Bonhoeffer, T., Götz, M., & Hübener, M. (2016). Transplanted embryonic neurons integrate into adult neocortical circuits. Nature, 539(7628), 248-253. https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v539/n7628/full/nature20113.html
Zhang, L., Yin, J. C., Yeh, H., Ma, N. X., Lee, G., Chen, X. A., … & Wu, G. Y. (2015). Small molecules efficiently reprogram human astroglial cells into functional neurons. Cell Stem Cell, 17(6), 735-747. http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/abstract/S1934-5909(15)00419-1