Scientists have partially revived the brains of beheaded pigs who died four hours earlier in a groundbreaking study.
Experts used tubes that pump a chemical mixture designed to mimic blood in the headless heads of 32 pigs to restore circulation and cellular activity.
Following Mary Shelley & # 39; s classic novel Frankenstein, billions of neurons began to work normally and the death of other cells was reduced in six hours.
However, electrical brain activity in the brain associated with high level consciousness, perception and other functions were not observed.
Although the find is an exciting breakthrough, it is still far removed from the evidence that a person's consciousness can be restored after they die, the expert warns.
But it may open the door to saving mental strength in stroke patients, but also to new treatments that stimulate the recovery of neurons after brain injury.
A research team led by Yale School of Medicine pulled the brains of pigs from slaughterhouses and placed them in a system they had made, called BrainEx.
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Retrieving a person from the dead may have been a step closer after scientists were able to restore the cells in the brains of pigs who died four hours earlier. Experts use tubes that have pumped a chemical mixture designed to mimic blood in the headless heads of 32 pigs to restore circulation and cellular activity
Following Mary Shelley & # 39; s classic novel Frankenstein, billions of neurons began to work normally and the death of other cells was reduced in six hours. This image shows inactive brain cells ten hours after death (left) and cells that were active after the same duration was connected to the system (right)
HOW DOES BRAINEX WORK?
BrainEx involves connecting a brain with a closed loop of tubes and reservoirs.
These circulate a red perfusion fluid, which can mimic bloody by passing oxygen through the brain.
That includes the brainstem, the cerebellar artery, and areas deep in the center of the brain.
The system can regulate the circulation of the synthetic blood around the brain of a mammal.
In this case, researchers worked with pigs, but they have previously stated that any species can be connected to the machine – including primates.
Previous studies saw that the machine caused hundreds of pig brains to live outside their bodies for up to 36 hours.
It mimics a pulsating blood flow – medically known as perfusion – at normal human body temperatures of 37 ° C (98.6 ° F).
The team saw a reduction in the death of brain cells for six hours.
There was also a revival of some cellular functions, including the firing of synapses – vital connections between neurons transporting signals.
The study suggests that some brain activities have the capacity to be at least partially restored – even a few hours after death.
It also challenges long-standing assumptions about the timing and irreversible nature of death, the researchers say.
Senior author Professor Nenad Sestan described the results as & # 39; staggering & # 39; and & # 39; unexpected & # 39; but believed that the technique could work on people.
Professor Sestan, neural scientist at Yale, said: & # 39; The intact brain of a large mammal retains a previously undervalued circulatory capacity and certain molecular and cellular activities several hours after circulatory arrest. & # 39;
However, electrical brain activity in the brain associated with high level consciousness, perception and other functions were not observed. This image shows what happened when scientists pumped chemical solution into the brain of the dead pig
Although during the experiments there were no indications of global network activity or full brain function.
But many basic cellular functions – once thought to stop seconds or minutes after stopping oxygen and blood flow – were observed.
Cellular death in the brain is usually considered a rapid and irreversible process.
Cut off from oxygen and a blood supply, electrical activity and signs of consciousness disappear within seconds – while energy supplies are exhausted in minutes.
Current insight maintains a cascade of injuries and death molecules are then activated, leading to widespread, irreversible degeneration.
But researchers in Professor Sestan's laboratory – focusing on brain development and evolution – discovered that small tissue samples routinely showed signs of cellular viability.
This was the case even when they were harvested many hours after death.
Although the find is an exciting breakthrough, it is still far removed from the evidence that a person's consciousness can be restored after they die, the expert warns. This image shows scans with magnetic resonance images of the brain
It can, however, open the door to saving mental powers in stroke patients, but also to new treatments that stimulate the recovery of neurons after brain injury. This image shows an analysis of synaptic organization, neuronal activity and broader brain activity
A research team led by Yale School of Medicine pulled the brains of pigs from slaughterhouses and placed them in a system they created, called BrainEx, that mimics the pulsating blood flow. This image shows the recovery of brain circulation and cellular functions hours after slaughter
Intrigued, they used the pig's brain to discover how widespread this is.
Four hours after death, they connected the blood vessels to distribute a uniquely formulated solution that they developed to preserve the tissue using BrainEx.
They discovered that the integrity of brain cells was preserved and certain neurons, glial cells in the central nervous system and blood vessel cells began to work.
The breakthrough can also shed light on the structure and function of the human brain – that is difficult to analyze.
This hinders research into topics such as the roots of brain disorders and neuronal connectivity in both healthy and abnormal conditions.
The chemical solution used lacks many of the components found in human blood – such as the immune system and other cells.
This makes the experimental system significantly different from normal living conditions.
Any future human tissue study or possible recovery of global electrical activity in & # 39; death & # 39; animal tissue should be done under strict ethical supervision, the researchers said.
& # 39; Death is a process and it takes time, not just seconds or minutes – we knew that, & # 39; said Dr. Martin Monti, associate professor in the psychology and neurosurgery departments of the University of California in Los Angeles, who was not involved in the research.
& # 39; The progress here is that with the right technology we may have more time to restore a molecular, cellular and microvascular function before they are completely compromised in the non-human animal model, a prospect that one day the potential could increase timeline for restorative interventions in human tissues.
& # 39; However, this should not be confused with magic that restores any function in your favorite hero who left a long time ago, which will not happen soon, nor should it be confused with reinventing cognitive processing or, much less , feeling in the headless head. & # 39;
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature.