Scientist successfully manages to keep detached pig brains alive for 36 hours; Humans next?

Pigs can be farmed easily and grow fast, allowing for transplant of their hearts into humans. REUTERS

In a major breakthrough, a Yale University Academic successfully managed to keep pig brains alive for more than 36 hours after they were detached from the body. The feat is expected to solve the problem of the possibility of brain-death after the nervous system is severed.

The think tank behind this development is Prof Nenan Sestan and he described this cutting-edge technology as 'BrainEx'. However, he made it clear that after severing the brain from the nervous system, it lacked consciousness, but was preserved well and live for more than 36 hours.

A giant leap to human head transplantation?

The move of Sestan has already received a major ethical backlash. According to skeptics, this could emerge as a giant leap in expanding the possibility of a human head transplant, which may finally help many billionaires to effectively prevent death.

Sestan gave a strong reply to these skeptics and revealed that his research is limited to improving the understanding of the brain's composition and function. He also added that the new technology will help to develop therapies for those who fall into a coma.

"Hypothetically, somebody takes this technology, makes it better, and restores someone's brain activity. That is restoring a human being. If that person has memory, I would be freaking out completely," said Sestan, Daily Star reports.

Criticisms all over

Frances Edwards, a professor of neurodegeneration at University College London has strongly criticized the technology developed by Prof Nenan Sestan. According to Edwards, this technology will not work with a human brain, as reduced oxygen supply will make the brain go dead.

"It would be a major, pretty much impossible step even to get this far with a human brain. Both in the pig and in a human, the whole brain is only available at death, but in the pig, you are taking a healthy animal and able to control exactly when and how it dies and immediately take out the brain. It would need to be cooled within a few minutes and then only rewarmed when oxygenated," argued Frances Edwards.

The unusual experiments conducted by Sergio Canavero

This is not the first time that controversies surrounding human head transplant are shocking the medical world. In November 2017, Sergio Canavero, an Italian scientist revealed that he has carried out the world's first human head transplant after an 18-hour-long surgical procedure. Canavero said that the technology he developed can be used by heavily rich business tycoons to live forever.

Before allegedly conducting experiments with human heads, Canavero along with his colleague Xiaoping Ren has published experiments with transplanting mouse heads onto rat bodies. Interestingly, the test animals faced high failure rates. In one test, out of the 60 head transplanted rats, only 14 seemed to have survived more than 36 hours.

The scientists have apparently conducted similar experiments on pigs, mice and monkeys, but the exact success ratio of these experiments is still kept under the wraps.