Researchers at Yale University in the United States claim they managed to keep a pig brain alive for 36 hours by restoring the blood flow to the organ after the scientists beheaded the animal.
The objective of the research, as the researchers themselves unveiled, is to identify the means of examining a living brain in the lab, which was so far virtually unknown, in an effort to determine how it functions and to formulate better therapies for a variety of illnesses.
The experiment also poses a chance of extending life, of course, only if a person’s brain can ever be kept active without a body.
Even though scientists claim that there is a lack of proof regarding the consciousness of the animals at the time their heads and bodies are separated, some have voiced concerns that there may still be a level of awareness.
Further information on the research has been provided at a lecture on science ethics held by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda, Maryland.
Scientists used heaters and pump to maintain the pig brain alive even though it was separated from the body
The leading scientist, Nenad Sestan, a neuroscience professor, described how his staff conducted trials with about 200 pigs collected from slaughterhouses.
They managed to re-establish the oxygen and blood flow to the pig brain by installing a network of pumps, heating systems, and artificial blood pouches that were warmed up to the regular temperature of the body.
The result, according to the researchers, was the capacity of maintaining the pig’s brain cells active and performing normal functions for 36 hours.
Professor Sestan characterized the outcome as “astonishing” and added that, if this can be replicated in humans brains, it might be plausible to apply these to trial new therapies for neurological disorders, as well as to prolonged life but that would be another story.
The scientists, on the other hand, were the first who raised the ethical quandaries this kind of research presents. Nonetheless, above all the ethical issues involved, maintaining a brain active while is separated from the body, be it a pig brain, is absolutely stunning.