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Life After Death? Dead Pig Brains Show Activity

female scientist analyzing data of pig's brain after its death

Researchers at Yale University have used an artificial blood replacement to restore activity to porcine brains hours after their death.

“This is a huge breakthrough,” Duke University ethicist and legal scholar Nita Farahany told Science News. “It fundamentally challenges existing beliefs in neuroscience. The idea of irreversibility of loss of brain function clearly isn’t true.”

For this unprecedented study, the Yale scientists used an artificial system called BrainEx, which is a chamber filled with a blood replacement fluid designed to deliver oxygen, sugar and other crucial ingredients – kept at body temperature – to keep the brains operating on a neural level.

During the six-hour perfusion of this fluid, the brains absorbed the sugar and oxygen and produced carbon dioxide, which showed metabolic function within these organs.

The pre-frontal cortex and the hippocampus appeared healthy when observed microscopically, while portions of the brain that were not placed in the BrainEx system fluid showed normal post-mortem degradation as would be expected at ten hours after euthanasia.

This study offers positive news for neurological researchers, as scientists may be able to use it to help people and animals who have suffered strokes and other brain injuries.

The BrainEx system purposely provides a compound that blocks neural activity in this study. It is not clear whether removing that blocking compound would allow more complex brain activity.

This important study is yet another example of the value of porcine tissue in research. Animal Biotech is proud of the role it has played in providing porcine tissue and animal models for this work.

We also offer our clients guidance in the proper testing, housing and care of our animal models. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you in your next project.