This has been achieved for the first time that scientists have been successful in storing the brain of pigs alive even after the animals are being beheaded.
The team of the scientists has been successful in reanimating the organs by restoring circulation. While doing so, they have proved that billions of individual cells stay still alive capable of performing a normal activity for up to 36 hours.
During a meeting at the National Institutes of Health, the work was described on March 28. The agenda of this meeting was to look into the ethical issues related to the latest advancements made in brain science, this work alone elevates a number of questions to keep ethical committees busy for a while. The work has already been submitted for publication and this was reported on by the MIT Technological Review.
Nenad Sestan, a Neuroscientist from the Yale University was leading the work. During the meeting, Nenad Sestan stated that they have collected the brains of pigs from the slaughterhouse and have used some pumps, heaters, and artificial blood to restore oxygen supply. Later, he added that there is no evidence of any regained consciousness or any electrical activity in these animals. And that this could also result in the irreversible condition of death or perhaps altered in a better experiment. In his presentation, Nenad Sestan said he was concerned about how this kind of work would be received by both the general public and the research community. Later, at the end of the meeting, he added that “People are fascinated. We have to be careful how fascinated,” he said.
About this ultimate research paper- The paper was authored by 17 leading scientists, ethicists, and philosophers – including Dr. Sestan himself – and imagined a future scenario in which researchers could create brains in a laboratory that had conscious experiences.
However, Nenad Sestan’s team did not take any attempt for reintroducing electrical activity. What the team has witnessed so far was that there are a significant fraction of cells behaving normally as there had nothing been happened. The system was later called as BrainEx and the team believed that this approach can be also be applied to many different species rather than just pigs.
The direct application of this research was the ability to study the brain in a completely new way. This could also lead to the significant improvements in our understandings about the connections between the different regions of the brain. Moreover, if once a work has been published, more would probably be revealed about what can be achieved with this particular technology.
The presentation has undoubtedly caused a huge stir and is an important ethical discussion kept in backlog to be held about this technique. Is the brain that is functioning post-mortem is just another organ or not? And there are many questions about its applications beyond just the pigs. Will scientists be using it in medicines? The discovery, no doubt, shines like a bright light on the ethical considerations necessary for cutting-edge brain research technologies.
However, brain research has been a subject of an editorial published in Nature today.
However, Nenad Sestan is among the signatories of the letter that discusses the newer technologies that are being employed to study the nature of the human brain. And how there are difficult questions that would be needed to be answered as these approaches get closer to mimicking a functioning human brain.
However, this experiment is raising concerns about ethics of future research into brains in laboratories.