The Yale School of Medicine has produced a significant discovery that has the potential to save lives in a variety of situations, such as the preservation of organs for transplantation and the treatment of victims of cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack. Researchers were able to bring back to life parts of the cells and organs of a pig that had been dead for an hour with the use of a specific fluid. Both a return of blood flow to the brain and some degree of mental activity have been seen.
Yale School of Medicine researchers have shown that when blood flow is cut off, the body undergoes a series of metabolic events that kills cells and tissues within minutes. In fact, it’s not necessary for harm to become irreversible immediately. Scientists have created a fluid that protects cells from damage and puts off responses that can’t be undone.
Some cell types have a slower rate of death than others. David Andrijevic, co-author of a study published in Nature, believes that this is a process that can be manipulated, halted, and certain cellular functions restored.
The current experiment is an extension of earlier studies that, in the year 2019, successfully revived pigs’ circulation and parts of their brain’s functioning. The scientific group that developed the technique designated it as BrainEx.
According to study leader Nenad Sestan: “After we succeeded to restore certain cell activities in the dead brain—an organ considered to be especially prone to ischemia damage—we speculated that something similar could work with other organs—the ones that are commonly transplanted.”
The current study included the application of OrganEx, a refined version of BrainEx, to an entire pig.
A fluid that promoted cellular health and decreased inflammation was delivered into the animal’s circulation using a device resembling a mechanical heart-lung machine. They triggered a heart attack in a sleeping pig one hour earlier.
They administered OrganEx and discovered that six hours later, the heart, liver, and kidneys were all actively performing certain crucial cellular activities.
Restored organ function includes some at the level of the complete organ. The heart, for one, demonstrated both electrical activity and the capacity to contract. We were also able to get the blood flowing again. Prof. Sestan says it “amazed us.”
Zvonimir Vrselja, one of the researchers, stresses that “under the microscope, it was impossible to discern between a healthy organ and an organ treated after death.”
Again in 2019 scientists observed brain activity in a pig, but this time it was not sufficiently structured to provide proof of awareness. Researchers were taken aback by the observation of involuntary, spontaneous muscle movements in the head and neck, which suggested the survival of certain motor processes.
It is impossible to overstate the value of this kind of investigation. In the scientific community, there is much discussion on how to save victims of heart attacks and strokes, or how to make transplanted organs last longer.
This incredible invention has a wide range of possible uses. Stephen Latham, director of Yale’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, said that continued vigilance was warranted in the face of future discoveries, particularly in the brain.
Additional testing of the discovered reactions and stringent ethical analyses are emphasized by the experiment’s authors. The relevant bioethical committee gave its permission to the experiment.