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Zombie pigs: scientists make their hearts beat again after an hour of being dead

Through a new process, researchers made the pig’s heart beat again and registered kidney and liver functions even though they have been death for an hour.

EFE - As if it were a science fiction movie, researchers managed to bring the dead back to life. What exactly are we talking about? Through a novel procedure, they were able to restore blood circulation and other cellular functions in pigs one hour after they died, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature.

The research, carried out by experts at Yale University, demonstrates that it is possible to slow the rapid deterioration of the body after death, which could have useful applications for extending life.

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The administration of a cell-protecting fluid specially designed for organs and tissues could, for example, keep organs undergoing transplantation in good condition for longer, while extending their availability, the authors note in a statement.

“All cells do not die immediately, there is a more prolonged series of events. This is a process that we can intervene, stop and restore some cellular functions,” explains one of the co-authors, David Andrijevic, of the Yale School of Medicine.

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This work, they recall, builds on earlier research (2019) with which they restored blood circulation and certain cellular functions in the brain of a dead pig through this new technology, which they called “BrainEx.”

“If we were then able to restore some cellular functions in a dead brain, an organ known to be more susceptible to ischemia, we wondered whether something similar could be achieved with other vital transplantable organs,” Andrijevic explains.

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For this latest study, the team again led by expert Nenad Sestan administered a modified version of “BrainEx,” called “OrganEx,” to the entire organism of a pig, not just the brain.

This technology, they point out, consists of a perfusion machine, similar to those that mimic the work of the heart and lungs during transplantation, and an experimental fluid containing compounds that can maintain cellular health and prevent inflammation throughout the pig’s body.

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Thus, the animals, previously anesthetized, were treated with “OrganEx” one hour after inducing cardiac arrest.

Six hours later, the experts found that certain key cellular functions were still active in many areas of the pigs’ bodies, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.

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They were also able to restore some functions in the heart, where they detected evidence of electrical activity so that the heart retained its ability to contract.

“We also managed to restore circulation throughout the body, which surprised us,” says Sestan, who points out that, normally, when the heart stops, the organs begin to swell and the collapse of the blood vessels blocks circulation.

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However, he notes, the organs of the deceased pigs treated with “OrganEx” seemed to “work”.

As with the 2019 experiment, the experts now found evidence that some areas of the brain regained cellular activity, although they did not detect organized electrical activity indicating consciousness.

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In contrast, they did observe the presence of involuntary and spontaneous muscle movements in the head and neck of the animals, suggesting that they retained certain motor functions, says Sestan.


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