(CN) – New research into the brains of dead pigs suggests scientists can restore brain circulation and certain cellular function hours after death.
Researchers developed a system called “BrainEx” which mimicked a brain’s regular pulsating blood flow at normal temperatures. They used 32 intact pig brains and placed them in the system. In a six-hour observation period, they found that certain cellular functions, such as synapse activity, had been restored.
According to the study published today in Nature, certain brain functions in mammals can be temporarily restored even after being dead for a few hours.
While they note that the system did not restore the pig brains to full function, their findings show that the brain may have a greater capacity to restore its cellular functions than previously believed.
“These findings indicate that molecular and cellular deterioration in the brain after circulatory arrest seems to follow a protracted process, instead of occurring within a singular, narrowly defined temporal window,” the researchers wrote.
They also found that, with the right intervention, the mammal brain has a higher resilience to blood and oxygen shortages than current research indicates.
The study has implications for studying brain damage and the effects of decreased oxygen levels on the brain.
Further findings are needed, the researchers concluded, adding their research “could potentially help to bridge the gap between basic neuroscience and clinical research, especially as it pertains to the human brain.”
The study was conducted by scientists from Yale, Duke, and Case Western Reserve universities.