Saturday November 17, 2018

Project ReAnima: A Breakthrough in the field of Neuroscience

The project is now a joint venture between the Philadelphia-based biotech company Bioquark Inc, Revita Life Science and Anupam Hospital

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Representational Image. Brain scan. Image source: www.macleans.ca
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  • Dr. Bansal hopes to expand the window of when brain death is determined from the current standard of 6 hours
  • He will recruit people who are declared brain dead and have already started the trial 
  • He expects his first subject to arrive as early as this week with chances of him being a victim of a road accident

Flanked by a restaurant-cum-bar on one side and a gym on the other, Anupam Hospital is like any other small town private nursing home in India but for one minor detail: Project ReAnima, the world’s first clinical trial on the revival of brain dead patients.

A medical marvel if you may call it, but Dr. Himanshu Bansal, an orthopaedician and an expert on ‘central nervous system’, in a small three-storey hospital in Rudrapur has conducted world’s first ever trial to revive brain dead patients using stem cell therapy. The Anupam hospital in Rudrapur which is a small town in Uttarakhand , a state known for its Himalayan Beauty, is now clearing up its top floor to accommodate subjects, which in this case are patients that are declared dead by any hospital in the area.

Image Source:http://drhbf.org/about_dr_bansal.php
Dr. Himanshu Bansal. Image Source: drhbf.org

Don’t mistake this as an attempt to revive patients back to life or reverse the state of brain death- Dr. Bansal corroborates the above statement by adding that he hopes to expand the window of when brain death is determined from the current standard of 6 hours. With ethical approvals in his hand, he says he expects his first subject to arrive as early as this week with chances of him being a victim of a road accident.

Legal Implications

Being the principal investigator of the ‘groundbreaking’ project, and after being proved that this cutting-edge clinical trial project works, Government authorities had given ethical approvals to recruit 20 clinically dead patients. With no laws established for the ‘living dead’ or brain dead patients in India, there were no special permissions or approvals to look into for Dr. Bansal. Any case that requires clinical trials usually needs approvals from Drug Controller General of India before heading on to Institutional Review Board (IRB) for any further procedures.

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Contradictory to the above statement, since the recruits were assumedly dead the permissions from the DCG weren’t required and all the permissions that were needed were simply granted by the IRB. An interesting point to note, Institutional Review Board, in this case, consisted of nothing more than a bunch of local doctors from private hospitals, some even retired, reported The Hindu.

Clarifying the above details, Dr. Bansal added saying “The rules apply only on living patients. We will recruit people who are declared brain dead. We have already registered the trial at CTRI, which is the only requirement since there is a grey area legally when it comes to experimenting on brain dead patients.”

The birth of the ‘groundbreaking’ project

Neuroscience. Imagesource:sputniknews.com
Neuroscience. Imagesource:sputniknews.com

A project that is now a joint venture between the Philadelphia-based biotech company Bioquark Inc, Revita Life Science (of which Dr. Bansal is the owner) and Anupam Hospital started in 2009.

Dr. Bansal witnessed success with two patients, one of whom was a world-renowned athlete. By inducing a certain degree of sensation in comatose patients and without cutting them open, the effects of stem cell therapy were studied by him; these are called “anecdotal studies”.

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Currently, the first phase of the trials is about to start soon, in which for six weeks after the clinically dead patient is got into the facility; the effects will be studied on him using Median Nerve Stimulation and laser therapy. The technical name of the trial is given as ‘First In Human Neuro-Regeneration & Neuro-Reanimation’. BioQuark will provide one-third of the funding for this project.

When asked about the ethical and religious implications of this study on the families Dr. Bansal informed, “Most families will be grateful that their loved ones still have a chance.”

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  • Aparna Gupta

    This is really an achievement in field of neuroscience. Hope this will prove successful and help the patients.

  • AJ Krish

    This project will give hope to the families of the victims. If this project succeeds, it will surely revolutionize science and further research will be done to exploit its other uses.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    If we could revive brain dead patients, it could be one great invention

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  • Aparna Gupta

    This is really an achievement in field of neuroscience. Hope this will prove successful and help the patients.

  • AJ Krish

    This project will give hope to the families of the victims. If this project succeeds, it will surely revolutionize science and further research will be done to exploit its other uses.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    If we could revive brain dead patients, it could be one great invention

Next Story

Aggressive Treatment Of Prostate Cancer May Also Lead To Usage Of Anti-Depressants: Study

Sexual dysfunction is a common adverse effect of antidepressants

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Anti-depressants, prostate cancer
The antidepressant drug Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, is pictured. VOA

Men with prostate cancer who get surgery or radiation are also more likely start taking antidepressants than their counterparts who don’t get aggressive treatment, a recent study suggests.

Many men with early-stage prostate cancer may not need treatment right away, or ever, because these tumors often don’t grow fast enough to cause symptoms or prove fatal. In the absence of symptoms or tests that suggest tumors are growing quickly, doctors may advise men to put off immediate treatments like surgery or radiation and instead get regular screenings to reassess whether the cancer is dangerous enough to warrant
intervention.

For the current study, researchers examined data on men with early-stage prostate cancer, including 4,952 people who had surgery, 4,994 who got radiation and 2,136 who opted instead for surveillance, or “watchful waiting.” In the year before their cancer diagnosis, 7.7 percent of the men were prescribed antidepressants, and this climbed to 10.5 percent in the first year after diagnosis.

 

Cancer, Prostate cancer
British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, is shown the advanced radiotherapy system during a visit to announce new funding and research into prostate cancer, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. VOA

 

Compared to a control group of men in the general population without a prostate cancer diagnosis, men with prostate cancer were 49 percent more likely to be taking antidepressants five years after surgery and 33 percent more likely to take antidepressants five years after radiation treatment, the study found.

But watchful waiting wasn’t linked to any increase in the odds of men taking antidepressants.

“Prostate cancer patients often fit the demographic profile (white, older age, and male) of someone at risk for depression,” said senior study author Dr. Robert Nam of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

“Once they receive treatment for prostate cancer, whether that is surgery or radiation, they may experience treatment-related side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, incontinence, and bowel dysfunction, which can significantly
worsen quality of life,” Nam said by email.

Cancer, Prostate cancer
Prostate Cancer Blood Test

Roughly half of men diagnosed with prostate cancer receive treatment known as androgen deprivation therapy, which suppresses production of the male sex hormone testosterone and contributes to mood disorders, Nam added.

Men in the study who received surveillance tended to be older and were more likely to have multiple chronic health problems than the patients who got surgery or radiation.

Limiting factors

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how different approaches to prostate cancer treatment might directly impact mental health. Another limitation is the potential for factors not measured in the study to have influenced both the treatment decisions men made and their mental health, researchers note in European Urology.

A separate study in the same journal, however, looked at trends in management of erectile function after prostate cancer surgery and offered fresh evidence that many men may be missing out on interventions that could improve their sexual health and quality of life.

Prostate cancer
FILE – A patient receives chemotherapy treatment. VOA

The study examined data on 2,364 patients who had prostate cancer surgery at one U.S. academic medical center between 2008 and 2015.

Researchers didn’t find any meaningful changes in the proportion of men who had erectile dysfunction up to two years after surgery, despite advances in surgical care and postoperative penile rehabilitation during the study period.
This study also wasn’t a controlled experiment, and it’s possible that results from a single medical center might not reflect outcomes for men who got prostate cancer treatment elsewhere.

The study also didn’t examine how any use of antidepressants might have played a role in men’s sexual health after prostate cancer surgery.

Also Read: Pain After Delivery Linked To Postpartum Depression

“Sexual dysfunction is a common adverse effect of antidepressants,” Nam said.

“Identifying the cause of the sexual dysfunction can be complicated as these symptoms are also associated with depression and can be improved once the patient’s depression is treated,” Nam added. “A healthy lifestyle, consisting of a well-balanced diet and exercise, is an important way to promote good sexual function, regardless of underlying medical
conditions.” (VOA)