Scientists restore circulation and cellular activity in dead pig brains
Scientists at Yale University have restored circulation and cellular activity in 32 pig brains, four hours after the animals had died.
The landmark study found the death of brain cells could be halted and that some connections in the brain were restored.
However, no signals from the brains indicated awareness or consciousness.
It was previously thought that brains experience an irreversible decline within minutes of having no blood supply, but the study’s results challenge that notion.
The results could also provide new insight into illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Lead scientist Professor Nenad Sestan said: “The intact brain of a large mammal retains a previously under-appreciated capacity for restoration of circulation and certain molecular and cellular activities multiple hours after circulatory arrest.”
The brains were collected from from a meat-plant and connected four hours later to a system created by the team at Yale.
They were pumped with synthetic blood to carry oxygen and drugs to slow the speed of cellular death.
The scientists observed a reduction in cell death and the restored functionality of certain nerve, blood vessel and glial cells.
Glial cells hold neurons in place, feed them with nutrients and oxygen, provide insulation, and clean up dead cells.
The team also observed slight synaptic function — the transmission of signals between neurons.
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