researchers reactivate cells in 32 brains… of dead pigs

Three years ago, American scientists carried out an experiment that seemed to come straight out of an episode of “Black Mirror”: they succeeded in reactivating dead pig brain cells.

In 2019, researchers at Yale University (United States) succeeded in reactivating certain neuronal functions in the brains of dead pigs. In any case, this is what a study published in the scientific journal “Nature”.

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Brains regain activity

To do this, the scientists connected 32 pig brains via Brain Ex, a system for studying the brain and its functions. Note that the mammals had been slaughtered four hours earlier in an abattoir, before their brains were completely removed from the skulls.

Once this step was completed, the brains were irrigated for six hours with an experimental solution aimed at oxygenating the tissues and limiting lesions. Result: the specialists observed a decrease in the destruction of brain cells. But that’s not all ! They also detected circulatory functions.

Photo credit: Yale School of Medicine

In a press release, one of the authors of the study explains that this experiment does not prove that it is possible to resurrect from brain death. Indeed, the researchers did not identify in the brains studied “no electrical activity which would be the sign of phenomena of consciousness or perception”. “These are not living brains, but brains whose cells are active”.

An extraordinary breakthrough

The researchers hope that this technology can improve our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of these studies would be disorders and diseases of the brain. This could pave the way for the development of new treatments for brain damage, Alzheimer’s disease or Huntington’s disease.

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This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the immense amount of human suffering caused by diseases of the mind. [et] of the brain”Nita Farahany, a bioethicist at Duke University School of Law, told National Geographic.

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