Experiment: Only Cell Functions Restored in Dead Pig Brains

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Science News

Health Editor’s Note:  Whether this experiment raises ethical questions for animals and eventually for humans goes without saying.  While the pig brains showed some cellular activity hours after death, this does not mean that the neurons (brain cells) were able to function at a normal (pre-death) level. In other words, items such as thought processes would not be restored. Keeping the cells alive is what this experiment has accomplished but now let us see results of restoring full brain function so this process could be used to reactivate humans brains which have been deprived of oxygen, due to strokes, drownings, suffocation, cardiac arrest, etc. That would make this tremendously valuable in healthcare and restoring a person to his or her pre-accident/death self….Carol

Circulation, Cell Functions Restored in Pig Brains After Death

Experiment raises ethical questions for animals — and for humans

By Judy George, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Researchers said they were able to restore circulation and some cellular activity in pig brains hours after death, according to their report in Nature, though they emphasized that this came nowhere close to reviving global brain functioning.

An artificial perfusion system known as BrainEx was able to reduce cell death and restore microcirculation and certain molecular and cellular functions in pig brains up to 4 hours postmortem, reported Nenad Sestan, MD, PhD, of Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues.

The brains showed no evidence of organized, global electrical activity associated with awareness or perception, the researchers added.

“This is not a living brain, but a cellularly active brain,” Sestan said in a press conference. “These findings lay the groundwork for novel approaches to studying the postmortem brain and potentially restoring the function of damaged cells within the diseased brain.” Stroke treatment and recovery is perhaps the most important application of the research.

The research, supported by the NIH BRAIN Initiative, is “a real breakthrough for brain research” and had never been done before in a large, intact mammalian brain, noted Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, PhD, BRAIN Initiative Team Lead.

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