MAY 23, 2018 7:22 AM PDT

Pig Brains Kept Alive in a Lab?


When the brain stops functioning, the body will eventually die, usually quite soon after. However, MIT's Technology Review reports that a team at Yale was able to take brains from pigs which were slaughtered for food and re-animate the organ. Some of the brains even had billions of cells still working and capable of regular cellular activity such as transmitting signals. The team at Yale described their findings at a March meeting of the National Institutes of Health which was called to discuss bioethical concerns given how much advancement there has been in the field of neuroscience.

The Yale researchers used bags of artificial blood, pumps, heaters and electrical signals to get the brains animated again, and while they were not conscious, the work is "mind-boggling." While Yale neuroscientist Nenad Sestan mentioned his work at the meeting, he had no further comment, telling Technology Review that his research has yet to be published and he was not aware his comments were going to be public. Keeping a brain alive depends on oxygen, and a system of pumps and micro-circulation can deliver oxygen to cells, but it's a long way to keeping a brain around long enough to transplant into a body. That is still the stuff of science fiction movies.
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  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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