Could the Brain Come Back from Death
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Two thousand eighteen marked the two hundredth anniversary of Mary Shelly’s horror story, Frankenstein. Creating the monster from the body parts of the dead hinged on having a fresh brain. But even as Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant, Igor, harvested a brain from the graveyard, we knew they couldn’t really bring the dead back to life.

Well new work is making us question that possibility which seems crazy but scientists have restored some cell function in the brains of dead pigs. Within four hours of death, they got thirty-two pig’s heads at a slaughterhouse and flushed them with a cold solution in order to preserve the tissue. Back in the lab, they removed the brains and pumped them with nutrients, oxygen, and tissue preserving chemicals. They did this for six hours and the brains showed remarkable preservation.

Key molecular and cellular functions were present even though electrical activity that defines a working brain wasn’t. Researchers actually weren’t ready for the brains to show consciousness because of an ethical boundary. That’s why they had treated the brains with lamotrigine, a drug that inhibits nerve cell activity.

However, they then took out individual cells from these brains and removed the nerve inhibiting drug. These cells were able to produce electrochemical activity. So, is it possible that consciousness could have been attained without the nerve blocking drug? If so, could it sense distress or pain? If a human brain is resuscitated, would death be redefined? How would this impact organ donation?

Many scientific advances that bring answers also bring many questions. You can’t get more dramatic than the ability to bring Frankenstein’s monster back to life, for real.

For more information…

Restoration of brain circulation and cellular functions hours post-mortem
The brains of humans and other mammals are highly vulnerable to interruptions in blood flow and decreases in oxygen levels. Here we describe the restoration and maintenance of microcirculation and molecular and cellular functions of the intact pig brain under ex vivo normothermic conditions up to four hours post-mortem. We have developed an extracorporeal pulsatile-perfusion system and a haemoglobin-based, acellular, non-coagulative, echogenic, and cytoprotective perfusate that promotes recovery from anoxia, reduces reperfusion injury, prevents oedema, and metabolically supports the energy requirements of the brain...

Scientists Restore Some Function In The Brains Of Dead Pigs
The brains of dead pigs have been somewhat revived by scientists hours after the animals were killed in a slaughterhouse.The Yale University research team is careful to say that none of the brains regained the kind of organized electrical activity associated with consciousness or awareness...