In a groundbreaking experiment, scientists announced that pigs who had been dead for an hour had normalized blood flow and cell function in their bodies. In the scientific world after this development, there were even researchers who thought that the definition of ‘death’ might need to be updated.
The discovery that dead cells can be regenerated has raised hopes for new techniques and drugs that will have a range of future medical uses in humans. The most pressing of these is that it could help organs last longer. In this way, there can be hope for people who need transplants around the world.
Dead pigs move again
All of the apparently dead pigs during the experiment were recorded to make sudden head movements. This may lead to debates about the ethics of the procedure performed.
The US-based team stunned the scientific community for the first time in 2019, when they managed to restore cell functions in pigs’ brains hours after they were beheaded.
For the latest research published in the journal Nature, the team applied this technique to the entire body.
Pigs under anesthesia were induced to have heart attacks and died medically. All blood flow in their bodies stopped.
Since this deprives the body’s cells of oxygen, without oxygen, cells in mammals begin to die immediately.
The pigs were left dead like this for an hour.
‘Cell death can be stopped’
The scientists then pumped into the bodies a liquid containing the pigs’ own blood, as well as a synthetic form of hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells). In addition to these, drugs that protect cells and prevent blood clots were given.
The blood began to circulate again, and for six hours after the experiment many cells began to work, including vital organs such as the heart, liver, and kidney.
Nenad Sestan, senior author of the study and researcher at Yale University, told reporters:
“We found that these cells were working hours after they weren’t supposed to. This shows us that the death of cells can be stopped.”
Co-author David Andrijevic of Yale told AFP that the team hopes the technique “can be used to save organs.”
Anders Sandberg, of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, said: “It can create more medical room for movement and enable new forms of surgery in situations where there is no circulation to fix things.” said.
Can a dead person be resurrected?
It is said that the technique could potentially be used to resurrect people as well.
However, Brendan Parent, MD, a bioethicist at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, notes that this type of method can only bring patients back to a point where they can’t live without life support.
In such a case, it is thought that if the brain functions are not saved, it may be in the form of a vegetative life, even if life continues.
Will death be a treatable condition?
Sam Parnia of NYU Grossman School of Medicine stated that death is not black and white. “It is a biological process that can be treated and reversible for hours after death. This experiment showed us that this is the case.” said.
Benjamin Curtis, a philosopher focusing on ethics at Nottingham Trent University in England, said the definition of death may need updating because the term is tied to the concept of ‘irreversibility’.
“This research shows that many of the processes we thought were irreversible are actually not irreversible, and so, according to the current medical definition of death, a person may not be truly dead until several hours after their bodily functions have stopped. there may be ‘undead’ corpses.”
“It was pretty surprising to the people in the room at the time,” said Stephen Latham, a Yale ethicist and co-author of the study, saying that almost all of the pigs made vigorous movements with their heads and necks during the experiment.
It is believed that consciousness has not returned
While it is not known what caused the movement, he stressed that at no point was any electrical activity recorded in the pigs’ brains, indicating that they never regained consciousness after death.
However, it was reported that there were “small jumps” in the EEG machine, which measures brain activity during movement.
Latham thinks it’s probably because the head shift is affecting the EEG recording.
But the movement that takes place is “a major concern,” Curtis said, because the latest neuroscience research shows that “conscious experience can continue even when electrical activity in the brain cannot be measured.”
So it’s possible that this technique actually caused the pigs in question to suffer, and if used on it, it could cause human suffering.
Scientists announced that research on the subject will continue rapidly.