The pig in the lab had been dead for an hour, with no blood circulation, no heart beating, and no brain waves. The Yale researchers then used a heart-lung machine-like device to pump a specific solution into the dead pigs, “resurrecting” the dead cells . The research report was published in the journal Nature.
When blood flow in mammals stops, the lack of oxygen and nutrient circulation triggers a cascade of events that lead to cell death and organ damage. While tissue-sparing, recovery-promoting approaches can be achieved in individual organs, scaling up these interventions to the systemic level has proven difficult. The Yale team adapted a technique called BrainEx to apply to the whole body of large mammals, which has previously been shown to restore some brain function in pigs hours after death. The newly upgraded system, called OrganEx, is connected to the circulatory system, and the factors contained in the pumped fluid counteract the damaging metabolites and electrolyte imbalances caused by the stoppage of blood flow. The research team notes that further exploration and development are needed to gain a deep understanding of OrganEx’s potential to help restore cells or disrupted blood circulation after death. They concluded that these findings underscore a previously underappreciated ability of the mammalian body to partially recover after blood flow interruption, which could increase the availability of transplanted organs.
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