Yale Scientists Kept Brains Of Dead Pigs Alive For Up To 36 Hours

Anita - Apr 19, 2019, 3:13 pm IST

A scientist team has ultimately found way to keep pigs’ brains alive for 36 hours after their death

Nenad Sestan, a neuroscientist from Yale shared with his colleagues at a meeting of National Institutes of Health (NIH) that he could keep brains of pigs “alive” outside their bodies for up to 36 hours.

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32 pigs’ brains were kept alive for 36 hours

This news made the way from the meeting to the media quickly. Over one year later, the study's details have ultimately been released in the highly-respected Nature journal, which confirms what initially sounded like science fiction was really science-proven, raising question around what it actually means to be “dead.”

And as per the previous report, the team of Sestan began their experiment by taking out the brains of 32 pigs out of their severed heads, which were sourced from a slaughterhouse in the area.

Next, they put these brains into chambers which were specially designed and then attached catheters which let them pump a liquid having preservatives and various other chemical substances through the arteries and veins of organs. This system called BrainEx is said to restore some crucial functions of the brain and helped keep the internal structures function. Finally, the researcher team could keep some brains alive for 36 hours with this method, raising various new questions around the nature of death.

“For most of human history, death was straightforward,” said Christof Koch neuroscientist not involved in the research to Nature. “Now, we have to question what is irreversible.”

In most of the global countries, a human is considered to be dead when his brain activity stops working or when the lungs and hear ceases. The brain needs a substantial amount of energy, oxygen, and blood. And if these factors do not support it, it can cause irreversible damage.

At present, BrainEx is far from available for use in human as it is hard to use without initially removing the brain from the skull, according to Sestan.