Of the pig-zombies: scientists “resurrect” the pig brain four hours after death

Something incredible happened: the scientists restored the cellular activity of the brain of pigs a few hours after animal death. This is the resurrection, which was able to produce with the help of a complex system of artificial fluid, occurred four hours after the death of the pigs at slaughter. “It’s an incredible breakthrough,” says ethicist and legal scholar Nita farahani from Duke University. “This challenges existing beliefs in neuroscience. The idea of the irreversibility of loss of brain function is clearly not correct”.

The work, published April 17 in the journal Nature, could lead to better treatment of brain injuries caused by stroke or other injuries that deprive brain tissue of oxygen. This achievement also raises a number of serious ethical problems related to research of the brain, which are no longer alive but not yet entirely dead.

Is it possible to revive the brain after death? I think so

In the study, the brains showed no signs of widespread neuronal activity which is believed to be necessary for consciousness. But individual nerve cells still worked. “There is this gray area between dead animals and live animals,” says farahani.

Experiments were conducted on pigs that were killed at a food processing plant. These animals were destined to become pork. “No animal died for the sake of this study,” said the authors.

After the beheading of about 300 pig heads were placed in ice and taken to a laboratory at Yale University where the researchers surgically removed the brain. Four hours after death, the scientists placed 32 of these brain in an artificial system, known as the BrainEX camera with a specially designed fluid, replacing the blood that is pumped through the blood vessels, delivers oxygen, sugar and other necessary ingredients at body temperature to maintain the functioning of the brain.

After six hours in the BrainEX system dead brains showed signs of activity. Oxygen and sugar got into the brain tissue, and carbon dioxide is released, as shown by analysis of the liquid. This suggests that the brain was metabolically active. Some nerve cells in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, areas important for complex thinking, looked healthy under the microscope. And the nerve cells could still run the signals, as shown by studies of individual cells in brain slices. In contrast, brains that were not in the BrainEX system deteriorated.

These results indicate that the brain — maybe even human — much more resistant to collapse than previously thought. “That’s the whole point,” says study co-author Nenad Sestan, a neuroscientist from Yale University. This method offers a new way to study the brain of animals in laboratories, and experiments with it can give an idea on combating corruption of the human brain caused by strokes or other injuries.

The study is also noteworthy for what it does not found — coordinated, extensive brain activity, which can be detected by electrodes on the surface of the brain. Such activity may indicate some level of consciousness in the process. If scientists have observed such signals, the experiment was immediately stopped, said Stephen Latham, a bioethicist from Yale University. “If that happens, we’ll have to regroup because there is a unique problem of creating some kind of experience or awareness in the body, which is completely isolated from any living being, he says.

The BrainEX system the fluid was designed to enable connection blocking neural activity, scientists have suspected that an excessive activity of nerve cells will be harmful for the brain. Scientists don’t know, allowed the removal of this blocking connections to manifest more complex patterns of brain activity or in any case they would present itself sooner or later in such a liquid.

Of course, the human brain is such a study while no one to hold not ready. However, this method in any case increases the likelihood that these approaches will one day be able to restore some function in the tissue of the human brain. Rules of experiments on humans is very strict.

We offer you to discuss this amazing discovery in our chat in Telegram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *