Today, the leading scientific journal Nature made headlines for a few pigs. In a study at the Yale University School of Medicine, several pigs that had been dead for an hour were given a new life-support system, and their bodies were immediately “resurrected” to some extent.
Image source: Nature’s official website homepage
This result shocked not only the researchers, but the world. what on earth is it? Is it the beginning of mankind’s exploration of returning from the dead? Today’s hot discussion is to briefly talk about the stories that happened to these pigs.
What exactly do mad scientists want to do
Human life is limited. Death is inevitable.
After the heart stops beating and the blood stops circulating, the basic unit cells of the human body begin to die soon. This death is a vicious circle, in which various enzymes, Cytokines accelerate the death of other cells, and the organ structure of cells collapses and never comes back.
The brain is the most sensitive to death. It starts for a few seconds after the heart stops beating, and it takes only a few minutes before the permanent and irreversible damage to all areas of the brain gradually occurs. The death of other organs and cells is a process, and the death of the brain is almost like pressing a switch.
The current human judgment of death is based on cardiac arrest or complete cessation of brain function, but as long as there is no special intervention, there is not much difference.
The Yale University School of Medicine team is committed to breaking through this limitation, hoping to restore the most basic electrical signals to the seemingly dead brain through manual intervention, that is, to restart, come back to life. The OrganEx system used in pigs today is what they came up with.
OrganEx builds on the efforts of its predecessors
This was not the original human resurrection effort.
There is no life without heartbeat and blood supply. In fact, human beings have already had a membrane oxygenation system to replace the heart and lung function, which is also known as ECMO. However, ECMO is mainly used to temporarily replace the cardiopulmonary function of critically ill patients. The use after death can only allow the organs to achieve initial perfusion recovery, the vascular pressure is very low, and there is no normal circulation.
The reason for this phenomenon is the change of blood cells after death, and various components cause the micro-occlusion of blood vessels to be unable to fill normally. Therefore, this kind of support system after death also requires special perfusion fluid. The perfusate needs to protect the organ as much as possible and prevent further blood clotting.
In 2019, the team had the first generation of the BrainEx system. The BrainEx system contains a perfusion power system and perfusate focused on the recovery of brain function. In the experiment, 4 hours after the death of the isolated dead pig brain, through the work of BrainEx, the brain returned to normal blood circulation, the cells also had basic functions, and a few EEG signals appeared. The brain has a very preliminary resurrection signal. Of course, there is still a long way to go from real life.
The pig brain with special treatment Source: nationalgeographic
Today, the system has a new upgrade, the perfusion system and perfusate have changed. A new batch of experimental pigs was connected to the new OrganEx system in the form of whole pigs 1 hour after death (reassurance, euthanasia).
Life and Death: “Rebirth” of Organs and Parts of the Brain
The new system has surprised researchers and the public alike, with results exceeding expectations.
Image source: https:https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-05016-1
After 6 hours of perfusion, the dead pigs recovered their normal blood circulation as a whole, including normal blood supply to the important kidneys and brain, and blood pressure and oxygen in the normal range. After death, the electrolyte imbalance in the body has been corrected, and even the corpse spots have disappeared.
At the cellular and organ level, “dead pigs” have also changed a lot. Especially in organs other than the brain, compared with various control groups (no intervention or ECMO only), the cell state and the metabolic level representing organ function were normal or greatly recovered. Including the pig heart has a stable QRS complex, and cardiomyocytes have rebeat conditions.
These organs and cells must beTo a certain extent, it has been “reborn”.
The most delicate brain has also undergone surprising changes.
As in 2019, the cells of the brain are alive and have the ability to metabolize themselves. Furthermore, the brain, as a whole organ, has also regained part of its neural function and activity. Although there was no recovery of the complex overall neural network, some neurons also had a certain function. The brain electrical activity was monitored, and the head and body of the “dead pig” showed some involuntary twitches.
The brain is a living part.
Following ethical dilemmas
Subject to ethical requirements, the trial was stopped 6 hours after perfusion. Follow-up research may make more progress, and it is bound to face more ethical problems.
In the future, it will be harder for us to answer what death is. Could more human studies be done? We don’t even know if the pigs who have experienced all this know that they are “alive again”…
But at least we have seen the light of day, and maybe the future is not a taboo, not a dream.
Organ transplantation may benefit from OrganEx
Tomorrow’s questions answered tomorrow, and today we can see OrganEx’s most likely help right now.
Leaving overall life support, which may have ethical issues, if this new support system is used for a single organ, it will significantly affect the normal perfusion and function maintenance of the organ after isolation. boost help. For those patients who are waiting for organs, the range of donor organs that can be obtained in the future will be further expanded, and more lives may be saved.
The dream is big and the future is far away, so let’s help some people first.
The latest and hottest medical topics, today’s hot discussion for you to interpret
Planning: Eric | Producer: Feidi
Cover image source: Dr. Lilac Design Team