Scientists restored some activity within the brains of pigs that had been slaughtered hours before, raising hopes for some medical advances and questions about the definition of death.
The brains could not think or sense anything, researchers stressed.
"The intact brain of a large mammal retains a previously underappreciated capacity for restoration of circulation and certain molecular and cellular activities multiple hours after circulatory arrest", Professor Nenad Sestan said in a Yale press statement issued ahead of the study.
The Dying of the nerve cells could be slowed down by the oxygen Cocktail, the energy budget has stabilized and even brain activity to be measured. If we are to take this paper and consider electrical and metabolic activity in brain cells "live brains", we are forced to be consistent and conclude the same about cell culture and brain organoids, both of which can produce brain cells with electrical and metabolic activity.
"As we get better at resuscitating the brain, we need to decide when are we going to save a patient, and when are we going to declare them dead - and save five or more who might benefit from an organ", Youngner said.
Andrea Beckel-Mitchener of the National Institute of Mental Health called the technology "a real breakthrough for brain research".
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The 32 brains came from pigs killed for food at a local slaughterhouse. Scientists put the brains into an apparatus in their lab.
"For most of human history, death was very simple", says Christof Koch, president and chief scientist of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, Washington. Not A Living Brain, Though While the study looks very promising, the team emphasizes that the brains involved in the study did not have detectable electrical signals linked to normal brain function. Restoring consciousness was not a goal of the study, which was aimed instead at exploring whether particular functions might be restored long after death.
They found that certain neuronal, glial, and vascular cell functionality was restored. Zvonimir Vrselja, co-first author and associate research scientist in neuroscience, iterates that they did not observe any type of organized electrical activity associated with perception, consciousness, or awareness. If such consciousness had appeared in the reported experiments, scientists would have used anesthesia and low temperatures to quash it and stop the experiment, said study co-author Stephen Latham of Yale.
This new knowledge is not of immediate medical interest, but the technique used could one day help doctors save the brain function of people who have had a stroke or test the effectiveness of therapies targeting cell recovery. after an injury. The researchers say that restarting brain activity might require an electrical shock, or preserving the brain in solution for extended periods to allow cells to recover from any damage they sustained while deprived of oxygen. Intrigued, they obtained the brains of pigs to study how widespread this postmortem viability might be in the intact brain.
"This sort of technology could help increase our knowledge to bring people back to the land of the living" after a drug overdose or other catastrophic event that deprived the brain of oxygen for an hour or two, he said. Unlike the pig experiments, any such treatment would not involve removing the brain from the body. The work also could create an ethical minefield of questions regarding life and death.
After several hours, researchers discovered that the brains had reduced cell death, preserved anatomical and cellular makeups, restored blood vessel structure and circulatory functions as well as other limited, basic functions.