Recently, Professor Nenad Sestan along with his team have restored cellular activity and circulation in a pig’s brain, post death. Additionally, the researcher couldn’t find any evidence of perception or awareness.
This research has raised questions against the previous belief that stated brain functions are irrevocable after death. Moreover, it has opened new avenues for scientists in which they can study the brain in its intact form.
Oxygen Deprivation Key Factor in Mammalian Brains
Mammalian brains are extremely sensitive to oxygen deprivation, which can result in brain damage and neuronal death. Scientists largely believed that blood and oxygen supply cut-off triggers are irrevocable due to the chain reaction of cellular damage. However, Sestan and his team found this concept intriguing, and aimed to further research on it. While regularly working in their lab, they noticed signs of cellular viability in the tissue samples and carried their analyses. They determine these signs a few hours after death.
Researchers Developed New System – Brainex to Understand Brain Functions
To test their hypothesis, the team created a system called BrainEx. This system mimics blood flow at normal body temperature. Researchers selected 32 pigs from a meatpacking plant and tested pig’s brain in the system 4 hours after death.
After blood transfusion for 6 hours on BrainEx, researchers noticed decreased cell death. They also experienced return of some synaptic activity among the neurons. The scientists found signs that glial, neuronal, and vascular cells were still functioning and they preserved the integrity of neurons.
It is amusing to know that an intact brain of a mammal has the capacity for retaining certain molecular, circulation, and cellular activities. That too, hours after circulatory arrest. However, one key concern remains.