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Science & Technology

Scientists revive pig brains hours after death

April 18, 2019 | Comment icon 5 comments



When is a brain truly 'dead' ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Allan Ajifo
A recent experiment has called in to question our understanding of when a person's brain has truly 'died'.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at Yale University, involved hooking pig brains up to a special machine which delivered drugs and oxygen by pumping a type of synthetic blood.

After six hours, the scientists were surprised to discover signs of brain activity and blood vessel restoration as well as a significant reduction in brain cell death, however there was no indication of brain-wide electrical activity indicative of awareness or consciousness.

"Cell death in the brain occurs across a longer time window that we previously thought," said neuroscientist Prof Nenad Sestan.
"What we are showing is the process of cell death is a gradual, stepwise process. And that some of those processes can be either postponed, preserved or even reversed."

While the process of attempting to revive a dead brain might seem a bit gruesome, in the long run such experiments could prove invaluable in helping to develop new treatments for brain-damaged patients as well as for people suffering from conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's.

"This line of research could lead to a whole new way of studying the post-mortem brain," said Dr Andrea Beckel-Mitchener. "It also could stimulate research to develop interventions that promote brain recovery after loss of brain blood flow."

What the findings could mean for our definition of 'brain death' however remains unclear.

Source: BBC News | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by bison 3 years ago
The discovery that dead animal tissues, such as muscles and nerves, can be stimulated to actions somewhat resembling those of living animals is credited to Luigi Galvani. In 1780 he caused a dead frog's legs to move in the characteristic jumping motion, in response to the touch of metal objects.   Alessandro Volta confirmed the phenomenon, and refined the understanding of it. He constructed the first electrical battery, and applied its current to a dead frog's legs, causing them to jump in a similar fashion. This was the very beginning of our understanding of how electricity operates the nervo... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by Conrad Clough 3 years ago
Do you want to start a zombie aPORKalypse? because this is is the road to take to get there.
Comment icon #3 Posted by mdbuilder 3 years ago
Porkenstein lives!
Comment icon #4 Posted by highdesert50 3 years ago
Interesting in that dying might be a rather protracted process depending upon how one defines awareness or even life itself. Does cognition, the process of knowing, recognize its own death?
Comment icon #5 Posted by RabidMongoose 3 years ago
When we go up a mountain we have hypoxia genes which activate to allow our bodies to cope with the lower oxygen levels. With slightly reduced oxygen we burn extra fat to release oxygen atoms which leads to the rapid weight loss mountain holidays cause. But with acute oxygen deprivation the hypoxia gene HIF-1 tells our cells to suicide. It is the bodies way of ensuring survival by reducing the oxygen needs of the body by killing off cells. When a persons circulation system stops (when they die) its the same gene that actually kills off our cells (including our brain cells). Cell death, and brai... [More]


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