Yale researchers partially revive bodiless pig brains

Scientists at Yale University have managed to restore some functionality to the brains of decapitated pigs for at least 10 hours after death.
Scientists at Yale University have managed to restore some functionality to the brains of decapitated pigs for at least 10 hours after death.

Scientists at Yale University have managed to restore some functionality to the brains of decapitated pigs for at least 10 hours after death.

Developed by neuroscientist Nenad Sestan, the system can restore circulation and some cellular functionality to intact pig brains removed from the skull. Their extremely interesting research titled “Restoration of brain circulation and cellular functions hours post-mortem” was published today on Nature.com.

According to the research paper, the pig brains were attached to a system called BrainEx which pumped synthetic blood along with other compounds back into the brain for over six hours.

Ten hours after death, cells in a pig brain normally deteriorate (left). But a new system called BrainEx kept nerve cells (green) and support cells (red) healthy (right).

While some brain function was restored the report cites that no “consciousness or awareness” occurred.

The results interestingly suggest that brains are much tougher than once thought. “That’s the punchline,” says study coauthor Nenad Sestan, a neuroscientist at Yale. The technique offers a new way to study animal brains in labs, experiments that might yield insights into countering human brain damage caused by strokes or other injuries, he says.  

What do you think about this massive step forward in medicine? Join the conversation by commenting below!