In what just might be one of the most horrifying scientific twists of the year, scientists have managed to keep a pig brain alive for five hours while it was separated from its body. New research published in Scientific Reports details how the researchers accomplished this feat of brain preservation, and it’s absolutely bonkers.
For starters, keeping the brain alive outside of the body, away from the connections that typically run between it and the heart, is astounding. The fact that researchers were able to keep the brain alive for 5 hours is a great step forward in the future.
The human brain remains a mysterious organ. We have gained a great deal of knowledge about this organ over the last few decades but it has been impossible to study outside the body. The novel method of brain preservation could be key to unlocking detailed information on how brains function.
To accomplish this, researchers employed a technique known as EPCC (extracorporeal pulsesatile circulation control). The researchers used this process to supply the brain with nutrients, blood, and oxygen it needs. This particular study looked at how a lack of glucose impacts the function of the brain.
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While we’ve been able to study this before by changing the diet of the subject and even using insulin injections, the human body is remarkable and can often create ways to correct or alter the brain’s behavior. Obviously, this can create muddied results. But, with a brain preservation method that lets us remove it from the body altogether, that may no longer be an issue.
It’s also possible that researchers could have preserved the brain of the pig for longer than the five-hour period. This is when the researchers stopped their experiment. the data indicates that it could have been kept alive much longer. This is promising for research that relies on this method.
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