Roundtable on Life-extension of the Brain in a Full-body Prosthesis with Biological Blood Substitutes and Brain-Computer Interfaces with Optional Neuroprostheses


Dr. Alexander Kaplan moderates
Dr. Mikhail Lebedev
Dr. Theodore Berger
The human brain is the last organ in the body to die. This happens because the organs—heart, kidneys, liver etc.—which enable the activity of the living brain malfunction. From this arises a purely medical situation where the life of the brain must be supported without the natural organs which carry out this function. Scientists have not yet determined the possible life expectancy of the brain under the condition where its biochemistry, nutrition and energy are supported at the optimum level by artificial systems using the latest technologies. However, the science and technology to solve this problem are ready today. Nerve cells have unique features compared with all the other cells of the human body: 10 times more genes are activated in them; they do not accumulate copying mistakes when multiplying; they live by close interaction with each other; and are capable of rearranging intercellular connections when damaged. All of this would allow them to live for a very long time, were it not for malfunctions in the working of other bodily organs.

Modern technologies already make it possible to replace any organ in the human body other than the brain, without adversely affecting its functions, and thus giving the brain itself the possibility of living for a long time. There are no serious fundamental restrictions to stop the nerve cells from existing in an artificial environment, for example for 5 to 10 times longer than they live, on average, in the human body. Modern achievements in neural science show that in terms of longevity, nerve cells can even overcome the species barrier, for example when they are transplanted from the brain of an animal of one species into the brain of an animal of another species which has a longer lifespan. The goal of the Russian project is to extend the lifespan of the brain by many times, and at the same time create highly advanced technologies for supporting the full existence of the brain and of the human personality beyond the lifespan of the biological organs of the human body, by means of a full-body prosthesis.

Key technologies in this project include: improving surgical equipment, creating biological blood substitutes with the necessary hormonal-biochemical and energetic substrate; development of multi-channel brain computer interfaces with two-way information exchange; and development of neural prostheses to repair structures of the brain itself that have malfunctioned.

This project is to be realized in collaboration with several US neuroscience laboratories, which have been highly successful in creating multi-channel systems to interface with the brain, and in the development of neural prostheses.

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