Human embryonic stem cells successfully implanted in chimps

First readers of my  medical techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, questioned the real-world likelihood of implanting the brain cells from a human fetus into Chimp Donnie.  "Too far out!" they said. "Probably too far out even for a Michael Crichton thriller.")

Well, now the future far-out is happening, and happening in the real-world, not just in my thriller. I could cite several reports on how human brain cells have been implanted in the brains of both humans (and animals, earlier, to test the procedures).  The aim is to treat conditions including stroke, Parkinson's, tumors, Traumatic Brain Injury, and ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Here's one news report to get you started: London Guardian: Stem cells transformed into brain cells to treat Parkinson's disease

PLOT ADVISORY re: A REMEDY FOR DEATH:  The experimental implantation of brain tissue as done by Dr. Daulby (with the assistance of Chimp Donnie) is not performed for any of the treatment purposes mentioned above.

Living to 100 and beyond--- Wall Street Journal

The article "Living to 100 and Beyond" in The Wall Street Journal tackles some key questions:

  1. Are there ways we can "conquer aging" --- at least in the sense of prolonging our healthy  years significantly longer? Not just another year or two, but what about an extra 50 or 150 or 100 years?
  2. If we can, what implications? On society, economics, ethics and the like.

The article, by Sonia Arrison, is based on her new book 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything.

Particularly relevant to this blog, and my related speculative medical thriller, The Life After Life Conspiracy, are some of the anti-aging and related approaches she mentions, certain of which play a role in the plot.  In writing this thriller, I started with the foundation that all of the steps are based on real-world research (though I have in places taken the liberty of going a step or so beyond what has actually been done yet, and in other places combining research in novel ways.) 

That said, areas of  special interest include:

  • Gene therapy, citing the work of Cynthia Kenyon at the University of California, San Francisco. I've been following the work of Dr. Kenyon and her "playing with worms" for a decade or more.
  • Replacing worn-out body parts, using regenerative medical approaches to "build" new replacement parts, including hearts, livers, bones, and others.  She cites the work of Dr. Anthony Atala at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and that of Dr. Doris Taylor at the University of Minnesota.
  • Organ printing--- "printing" stem cells around a scaffold of various types.

Enough. I'll leave you to the article and the book:

Sonia Arrison's article in Wall Street Journal: Living to 100 and Beyond

Sonia Arrison's book, info via Amazon

"Banishing consciousness: the mystery of anesthesia"

Britain's New Scientist magazine ran two articles recently on consciousness. They drew my attention, as lost or altered consciousness plays a role in my scientific/spiritual thriller, THE LIFE-AFTER-LIFE CONSPIRACY.

In "Banishing consciousness: the mystery of anesthesia"  writer Linda Geddes begins and ends with her experience "going under" for an operation, then puts that into context with an exploration of what we know about the kind of lost consciousness that results, and what science knows about what actually happens.

What does happen? How does surgical anesthesia really work? At this point, no one really knows, though current research studies are moving toward some understanding.  In these studies, anesthetized subjects are subjected to EEG and fMRI scans while under.

Of particular interest to me and THE LIFE-AFTER-LIFE CONSPIRACY, much of what is being discovered about anesthesia also seems to carry over to expand our understanding of PVS (persistent vegetative state) and other levels of coma.


For the record, the second New Scientist article, "Consciousness is a matter of constraint" by Terrence W. Deacon, is based on his new book, Incomplete Nature: How mind emerged from matter. (W.W. Norton). The article and the book explore how mind or consciousness can be "generated" (or whatever  you care to term it) from matter.  Put differently, how is it that consciousness seems to come from the three pounds of wet matter in the human head, and not from three pounds of wood or coal or sand?