Category Archives: Xiaoping Ren

Brief Items of Interest, November 2017

Hair related updates at the bottom today.

— Last month, I decided to stop covering medical items of interest in my once a month “brief items of interest” posts. It was becoming a bit too much work to try to pick around 5-10 of the most interesting medical developments each month among the 100s out there.

Lo and behold comes today’s potentially blockbuster medical development regarding a subject matter that I have covered on this blog several times before: the world’s first ever head transplant (or more accurately, a “full body transplant” onto an existing “live” head). It seems like the world’s first successful head transplant ***albeit between two dead people*** has just taken place successfully in China under the supervision of Dr. Xiaoping Ren (with input from Dr. Sergio Canavero/aka Dr. Frankenstein), both of whom I have covered on this blog in the past. However, the procedure was undertaken between two cadavers (i.e., dead people) so is still not really a proper head transplant. Dr. Canavero claims that the transplantation of a live human’s head to a deceased human’s still working body (i.e., a true “full body” transplant) is now absolutely imminent. Lots of coverage about this in the media today and continued skepticism (but significantly less so than in the past). Is Dr. Canavero just in it for the fame or is he for real?

— Also, from the past two weeks, the first man to have his genes edited inside his body (US); and  successful skin epidermis replacement via gene modification (Germany). Both developments are major groundbreaking medical breakthroughs.

And in Hair Research Updates:

Excellent effort by “Hellouser” in his hairlosstalk updates from the recent World Congress for Hair Research. An absolute must read.

Dr. Rachita Dhurat is at it again. This time, her team makes the surprising conclusion that “A caffeine-based topical liquid should be considered as not inferior to minoxidil 5% solution in men with androgenetic alopecia“. There have been a number of studies over the years that suggest caffeine to beneficial towards hair growth. The stimulating effects of caffeine can reduce hair loss in some cases.

— Latest Aclaris patent grants covering baricitinib, decernotinib, ruxolitinib, and tofacitinib. It seems like all four can end up being used for treating androgenetic alopecia, especially tofacitinib.

— Reader “omg” posted a very interesting link today to a paper co-authored by renowned hair loss researchers Dr. Neil Saddick and Dr. Valerie Callender and others titled “New Insight Into the Pathophysiology of Hair Loss Trigger a Paradigm Shift in the Treatment Approach“. Lots of discussion in there about the role of inflammation in hair loss. The whole paper can be downloaded from the above link.

— Histogen and Dr. Gail Naughton covered in Allure Magazine. Key quote:

“The U.S. trials are planned to commence in 2018; we expect it to gain approval in Mexico first, perhaps in 2020, and then in the U.S. sometime after that”.

— UK male model Jeremy McConnell gets a hair transplant and beard transplant in Turkey.

Xiaoping Ren and Sergio Canavero: A Match Made in Hell

I have covered Italian neurosurgeon (and ex-director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group) Dr. Sergio Canavero several times on this blog in the past via small sections within my once a month “brief items of interest” posts. To this date, I have generally thought that Dr. Canavero was more in it for the fame and shock value rather than for anything else (although to be fair, he also does often come across as being compassionate towards people with malfunctioning bodies). I did not think that his human head transplant procedure would ever come to fruition in the near term as he has often declared during the past few years.

Usually, I am very optimistic when it comes to medical/scientific/ technological advances, but in this case I (like numerous other people) thought that Dr. Canavero was a borderline lunatic. Albeit an entertaining one who uses bananas to explain complicated surgeries. I did not think that western governments would ever allow him to proceed with his experiments on humans, while the more willing Chinese government would probably only allow it after a few more years of research. Definitely not before 2020:-)

Dr. Sergio Canavero

Maybe China will Speed up the Process?

However, it seems like there is now a decent chance that the first ever human “head transplant” procedure is on schedule and will be attempted within a year. Several days ago, Dr. Canavero gave a detailed interview to a German magazine (four pages long) that is worth a read.

As I have mentioned in the past, this procedure is technically a “full body transplant”, since a live patient with a faulty body will get a dead person’s full body as a replacement. However, I will call it by the “head transplant” phrase that is now widely used by the global media.

Originally, it had been announced that Russian Valery Spiridonov was going to be the first ever patient to ever get a head transplant. However, with the operation now scheduled to take place in China, it looks like a Chinese patient will be the first one.

Dr. Xiaoping Ren to Lead

It also seems like Dr. Xiaoping Ren (who was part of a team that performed the first ever hand transplant in the US) will now lead the surgery proceedings, with Dr. Canavero assisting. Dr. Ren became well known in 2015 after that shocking article came out. He has since conducted many more experiments (primarily on rodents), including this recent grotesque one. I hate seeing such images, but they are everywhere on the internet these days so I decided to post the link. Dr. Ren works at Harbin Medical University in China. Dr. Ren is extremely experienced, just like Dr. Canavero.

Brief Video Conference Between Dr. Canavero and Dr. Ren

My Thoughts

Even if the first ever human head transplant does occur within a year in China, I do not think that it will be a success. In a best case scenario, the human will live for a few hours like a vegetable -> Dr. Canavero will say it was a huge success because the patient lived briefly – > the global media will call it torture – > and the Chinese government could go either way (i.e., ban future procedures on humans, or allow them to continue a few more times after considering the surgery somewhat of a success and a pride for the country).

Overall, as the title of this post indicates, this procedure sounds like hell to me. If my body was disintegrating, I would rather die than go through this kind of experiment. Kudos to the patients who are volunteering for something that could potentially end up making medical science progress drastically.

Having said that, it will be absolutely ludicrous if a successful human head transplant occurs before a hair loss cure is realized.

I almost forgot to mention…Dr. Canavaro also plans to unfreeze cryogenically frozen brains and move them to bodies within three years.

If you like this kind of reading, make sure to check out my past posts on: