By: Kyle James | 04-28-2018 | Science
Photo credit: Simone Van Den Berg |

Pig Brains Kept Alive Outside Of Bodies Raising Ethical Concerns

What if you woke up and tried to open your eyes, but wait, you have no eyes? You try to reach up and feel where they used to be only to find you have no arms either. This might be a reality for people of the future who choose to have their brains translated into new bodies.

Thanks to groundbreaking research at Yale University, the first pig brains have been kept alive outside of their bodies for several hours. The aim of the research is to develop a way to study intact human brains in the lab for medical research that could help scientists test out new treatments for neurological disorders.

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The researchers presented details of the study at a brain science ethics meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. Prof Nenad Sestan of Yale University explained that he and his team experimented on over 100 pig brains which prompted the NIH investigation over ethical concerns. Sestan told of how they discovered they could restore circulation using a system of pumps, heaters, and bags of artificial blood.

This allowed the researchers to keep the cells in the brain alive and capable of normal activity for up to 36 hours which Sestan described as "mind-boggling". The idea is that one day this could be repeated with human brains, allowing researchers to use them to test new treatments. Sestan also raised potential ethical concerns such as whether the brains still have consciousness and if they deserve special protection.

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Down the road, this research could lead to the ability to transplant a person's brain into a new body. "If researchers could create brain tissue in the laboratory that might appear to have conscious experiences or subjective phenomenal states, would that tissue deserve any of the protections routinely given to human or animal research subjects?" the researchers said.

"This question might seem outlandish. Certainly, today's experimental models are far from having such capabilities. But various models are now being developed to better understand the human brain, including miniaturized, simplified versions of brain tissue grown in a dish from stem cells. And advances keep being made."

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Prof Colin Blakemore, of the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, agreed that a public debate on the issue is a good idea. "The techniques, even to a researcher, sound pretty ghoulish - so it is very, very important that there should be a public discussion about this, and not least because the researchers who have some investment can tell the public why it would be so important to develop such techniques," Blakemore said.

"There is a paradox here, and that is - the better such methods are at maintaining a whole brain, fully functional but without connection to a body, the more useful that would be for research purposes. But the more likely it would also be for the brain to have some sentience and consciousness, which would be deeply worrying."

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4 Comment/s
Anonymous No. 24395 2018-04-28 : 04:05

Im ready for Jim Cherney memes and pics. bring them on!!!

Anonymous No. 24396 2018-04-28 : 04:10


I got one but it might trigger someone

Anonymous No. 24397 2018-04-28 : 04:22

hahaha omg

Anonymous No. 24400 2018-04-28 : 05:12

Scientific advancement and ethics are mutually exclusive.

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