Home LATEST NEWS Cells and organs from dead pigs “live again” for a few hours

Cells and organs from dead pigs “live again” for a few hours


In 2019, a team of researchers based in the United States stunned the scientific community by successfully restoring cell function in the brains of pigs, a few hours after their decapitation.

In their latest research, published Wednesday in the journal Naturethese same scientists sought to extend this technique to the whole body of the animal.

They caused a heart attack in anesthetized pigs, which prevented blood from circulating and deprived their cells of oxygen. However, without oxygen, mammalian cells die.

After an hour, they injected the dead bodies with a liquid containing the pigs’ blood (taken from their living) and a synthetic form of hemoglobin – the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. They also injected drugs that protect the cells and prevent blood clots from forming.

Blood began to flow again and many cells started functioning again, including in vital organs like the heart, liver and kidneys, for the next six hours.

These cells were working hours after they died, when they shouldn’t have been. This shows that the disappearance of cells can be stoppedsaid Nenad Sestan, lead author of the study and researcher at Yale University, during a press briefing.

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Under the microscope, it was difficult to differentiate a normal, healthy organ from a post-mortem treated organ.added David Andrijevic, co-author of the study, also from Yale.

The team hopes that this technique, dubbed OrganEx, can be used to save organs extending their operation, he explained. What potentially save the lives of people waiting for a transplant.

OrganEx could also enable new forms of surgery by giving more medical room for maneuveraccording to Anders Sandberg of the University of Oxford.

Benefits… but also risks

But this technique raises a number of questions, medical, ethical, even philosophical.

She could increase the risk that resuscitated persons will subsequently be unable to recover from a life-supported statealerted Brendan Parent, bioethicist at the Grossman School of Medicine of New York University, in a comment published in parallel by Nature.

For Sam Parnia, from the medical department of the same university, this study really remarkable also shows that death is a treatable and reversible biological process hours after.

So much so that the medical definition of death may need updatingjudged Benjamin Curtis, a philosopher specializing in ethics at the British University of Nottingham Trent.

Given this study, many processes that we thought were irreversible would not be.he told AFP. And, according to the current medical definition of death, a person might not be truly dead for hours.some processes lasting beyond the cessation of bodily functions.

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This discovery could also spark a debate on the ethics of such procedures.

Especially since almost all the pigs made powerful movements with their head and neck during the experiment, according to the account of Stephen Latham, one of the authors of the study. It was quite surprising to the people in the roomhe told reporters.

The origin of these movements remains unknown, but he assured that at no time had electrical activity been recorded in the brain of the animals, thus excluding a recovery of consciousness.

These head movements are nevertheless a major concernestimated Benjamin Curtis, because recent research in neuroscience has suggested that conscious experience can continue even when electrical activity in the brain cannot be measured.

It is therefore possible that this technique caused suffering to pigs and that it could cause suffering to human beings if used on them.he added, calling for more research.

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