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Ash of cat to be launched in space

  • Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pigs that had been killed for hours.
  • They hope that the technology will deepen our understanding of the brain and possibly develop new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders. 19659002] The research raises many ethical issues and tests our current understanding of death.

The image of an immortal brain coming back to life again is the science fiction stuff. Not just any science fiction, especially B-grade sci fi. What immediately goes into mind are the black and white phases of movies like Fiend Without a Face . Bad actor. Plastmonstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord which for some reason is also a tentacle?

But as some good science fiction, it's just a matter of time before any kind of it swims into our reality. This week's Nature published the results of researchers who were able to restore function to pigs that were clinically dead. At least what we once thought of as dead.

What is dead may never die, it seems

The researchers did not retrieve from House Greyjoy – "What is dead must never die" – but largely came from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pigs to a system called Brain Ex . Brain Ex is an artificial perfusion system – that is, a system that takes over the functions that are normally regulated by the body. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a slaughterhouse by the US Department of Agriculture; their brains were completely removed from the skull.

Ex pumped an experimental solution into the brain that essentially mimics the blood flow. It took oxygen and nutrients into the tissues, which gave brain cells the resources to start many normal functions. The cells began to consume and metabolize sugars. The brain's immune system kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells also responded to drugs.

The researchers have managed to keep brains alive for up to 36 hours and currently do not know if Brain Ex may have kept their brains longer. "It is conceivable that we only prevent the inevitable, and the brain will not be able to recover," says Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and senior researcher.

As a control, other brains received either a false solution or no solution at all. No resuscitation of brain activity and worsening as usual.

The researchers hope that the technology can improve our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the most important pathways for such studies would be heart disease and disease. This may point the way to developing new treatments for brain damage, Alzheimer's, Huntington's and neurodegenerative conditions.

"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately provides a much better model for studying human brain, which is extremely important, given the large amount of human suffering from brain diseases [and]" Nita Farahany, the bioethics at Duke University School of Law, who wrote the study's comment, National Geographic [19659000] An ethical gray matter

Before anyone gets a island of Merau vibe, it is worthwhile to note that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness. Brain ] solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra careful, the researchers also followed the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic if they had seen signs of consciousness.

Nevertheless, the research signals a massive debate on medical ethics and our definition of death.

Most countries define death, clinically, as the irreversible loss of the brain or circulatory function. This definition is already in conflict with some people- and value-centered understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse the clinical death with artificial perfusion?

"This is wild" Jonathan Moreno, a bioethician at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times . "If there ever was a question that gave rise to great public deliberation on ethics for science and medicine, then this is one."

One possible consequence involves organ donations. Some European countries require emergency services to use a process that preserves organs when they cannot revive a person. They continue to pump blood throughout the body, but use a "thoracic aortic occlusion balloon" to prevent blood from reaching the brain.

The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes easily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethician at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if Brain Ex would become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.

"There is a potential conflict here between potential donors' interests – which may not even be donors – and people waiting for organs," he said.

It will take a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question concerns how such experiments damage animal substances.

Ethical review cards evaluate research protocols and can reject anything that causes undue pain, suffering or distress. Because dead animals do not feel any pain, no trauma suffers, they are typically approved as substances. But how do such boards make a judgment on the suffering of a "cellular active" brain? Anxiety in a Partially Living Brain?

Dilemman has never been seen before.

Set New Borders

Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is of course Frankenstein . As Farahany told National Geographic : "It definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it restores the mobile function where we previously thought it was impossible. But to have Frankenstein ] you need some level of awareness, someone "there" there. [The researchers] did not restore any form of awareness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that opportunity. "

She's right. The researchers conducted their research to improve humanity, and one day we can reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. However, the ethical issues remain as worried as the stories they remind us of.

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