Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

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Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2019-04-18 04:12am

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-sho ... -dead-pigs

Taking this with all the grains of salt that a short article in a popular news outlet claiming a scientific breakthrough with massive medical, social, moral, and even metaphysical implications is due, but:
The image on the left shows the brains of pigs that were untreated for 10 hours after death, with neurons appearing as green, astrocytes as red and cell nuclei as blue. The image on the right shows cells in the same area of brains that, four hours after death, were hooked up to a system that the Yale University researchers call BrainEx.
Stefano G. Daniele and Zvonimir Vrselja, Sestan Laboratory, Yale School of Medicine

The brains of dead pigs have been somewhat revived by scientists hours after the animals were killed in a slaughterhouse.

The Yale University research team is careful to say that none of the brains regained the kind of organized electrical activity associated with consciousness or awareness. Still, the experiment described Wednesday in the journal Nature showed that a surprising amount of cellular function was either preserved or restored.

The implications of this study have staggered ethicists, as they contemplate how this research should move forward and how it fits into the current understanding of what separates the living from the dead.

"It was mind-blowing," says Nita Farahany, who studies the ethics of emerging technologies at Duke Law School. "My initial reaction was pretty shocked. It's a groundbreaking discovery, but it also really fundamentally changes a lot of what the existing beliefs are in neuroscience about the irreversible loss of brain function once there is deprivation of oxygen to the brain."

The brain is extremely sensitive to a lack of oxygen and shuts down quickly. But researchers have long known that viable cells can be removed from post-mortem brains hours after death, says Nenad Sestan, a neuroscientist at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

Such cells can be studied in a lab dish, Sestan says, "but the problem is, once you do that, you are losing the 3D organization of the brain."

He and some colleagues wondered whether it might be possible to study brain cells while leaving them in an intact organ. Doing so meant somehow supplying them with oxygen, nutrients and various other cell-protective chemicals.

The scientists have spent the past six years developing a technique to do that, testing their methods on around 300 pig heads they obtained from a local pork processing center.

"This really was a shot-in-the-dark project," says team member Stefano Daniele. "We had no preconceived notion of whether or not this could work."

After deciding on the final version of their technology, which they call BrainEx, they did a detailed study using 32 pig heads. Daniele says that while at the slaughterhouse, he and fellow researcher Zvonimir Vrselja flushed the brains to clear out residual blood and to cool down the tissue.

Back at the lab, they removed the brains from the pigs' heads and placed the isolated brains in an experimental chamber. The researchers hooked key blood vessels up to a device that pumped in a specially formulated chemical cocktail for six hours, starting about four hours after the pigs had been killed.

These brains ended up looking dramatically different from pig brains that were left alone to deteriorate. "We found that tissue and cellular structure is preserved and cell death is reduced. In addition, some molecular and cellular functions were restored," Sestan says. "This is not a living brain, but it is a cellularly active brain."

The researchers' approach offers a new way to study brain diseases or injuries in the lab and to explore the basic biology of the brain. "We could actually answer questions that we can't now," Vrselja says.

"This is a real breakthrough for brain research. It's a new tool that bridges the gap between basic neuroscience and clinical research," agrees Andrea Beckel-Mitchener of the National Institute of Mental Health who works with the BRAIN Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative, which started in 2013 to accelerate neuroscience research, provided funding for the work.

The researchers emphasize that the goal was definitely not to restore consciousness in these pig brains. "It was something that the researchers were actively worried about," says Stephen Latham, a Yale bioethicist who worked with the team.

The scientists constantly monitored the pig brains' electrical activity, Latham says. If they had seen any evidence that signals associated with consciousness had emerged, they would have used anesthesia and cooling to shut that down immediately.

"And the reason is that they didn't want to do an experiment that raises the ethical questions that would be raised if consciousness were being evoked in this brain," Latham says, "without first getting some kind of serious ethical guidance."

The special solution pumped into the brains included the anti-seizure drug lamotrigine, which is known to block or dampen neuronal activity. That's because "the researchers thought that brain cells might be better preserved and their function might be better restored if they were not active," Latham says.

But tests done on single cells taken from the pig brains, which involved washing off the solution, showed that individual cells were capable of electrochemical responses. So it's unclear whether the team would have seen global electrical activity linked to consciousness in the pig brains if the neuronal-activity blocker had been left out of the treatment or if the blocker had been removed after cells had partly revived.

"That's a very important question, and one that we have discussed at length," Daniele says. "We cannot speak with any scientific certainty to that point since we did not run those experiments."

The potential ethical questions raised by this research range from how to protect animal welfare to how it might affect organ donation from people declared brain-dead.

"The science is so new that we all need to work together to think proactively about its ethical implications so that we can responsibly shape how this science moves forward," says Khara Ramos, director of the neuroethics program at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

A few years ago, the Yale researchers consulted with a neuroethics working group convened by the National Institutes of Health's BRAIN Initiative. That's how Farahany learned of the research. She says these results need to be replicated in other labs to see whether they hold up.

But if they do, the findings challenge a lot of assumptions that underlie legal and ethical controls on experiments.

"If it's a dead animal, it's not subject to any research protections because you wouldn't expect that it would suffer from any pain or distress or need to be thought about in terms of humane care," Farahany says. But if that animal's brain can be even partially revived, she asks, then "what do we need to do immediately, today, in order to ensure that there's adequate protections in place for animal research subjects?"

What's more, she adds, "immediately people are going to recognize the potential of this research. If, in fact, it is possible to restore cellular activity to brain tissue that we thought was irreversibly lost in the past, of course people are going to want to apply this eventually in humans."

While there are protections in place for human research subjects, that's not so much the case for dead human tissue, says Christine Grady, chief of the department of bioethics at the NIH Clinical Center.

"Once a human dies and their tissue is in a laboratory, there are many fewer restrictions on what can be done," Grady says. "It is interesting to think about this issue in light of this experiment."

In a commentary that accompanied the research paper in Nature, Farahany and her colleagues Henry Greely and Charles Giattino say the work reminds them of a line from the 1987 movie The Princess Bride: "There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive."

Research like this could complicate the effort to secure organs for transplant from people who have been declared brain-dead, according to another commentary written by Case Western Reserve University bioethicists Stuart Youngner and Insoo Hyun.

If people who are declared brain-dead could become candidates for attempts at brain resuscitation, they write, "it could become harder for physicians or family members to be convinced that further medical intervention is futile."
No shit. Of course people are going to be reluctant to give their or their loved ones' organs away when there's a possibility of fucking resurrecting them.

Also, because someone has to make the reference...

(moans) Braaaaaaaiiinnnnnnns...
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by JI_Joe84 » 2019-04-25 07:46pm

Donation organs will cease to be a thing once we fully fund stem cell research.
Once that is figured out then you can make all the organs you want. You could even take the DNA of the patient and make a better organ for them.

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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2019-04-26 06:30pm

And in related news:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319035.php
From gene editing to human head transplantation, the limits of medical science are being pushed further than ever. And now, researchers have turned their attention to another extraordinary mission: reversing brain death.

A controversial phase I trial will aim to restore life to 20 people who have been declared brain dead.
Though it sounds similar to the makings of fiction, scientists have received approval for the first ever trial that aims to restore neuronal activity in humans who have been declared brain dead.

The proof-of-concept study - which forms a part of the Reanima Project - is the brainchild of two life sciences companies: Bioquark, Inc., based in the United States, and Revita Life Sciences, based in India.

Due to begin later this year, the trial will recruit 20 individuals who have suffered brain death as a result of traumatic brain injury (TBI), but whose bodies are biologically alive as a result of cardiopulmonary and trophic support - a model referred to as a "living cadaver."

To participate in the trial, each subject must be aged between 15 and 65 years, be unwilling for organ donation, and have written consent from a legally acceptable representative.

Researchers - including Bioquark CEO Ira Pastor - will test a variety of techniques that previous studies have demonstrated to possess neuroregenerative properties, and these will be combined with devices that have been shown to stimulate the central nervous system of coma patients.

Using this "combinatorial approach," the researchers hope to move subjects from a brain dead state into a coma state, effectively bringing them back to life.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal has been met with much criticism. Last year, an article published in the journal Critical Care - penned by researchers Ariane Lewis and Arthur Caplan of the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City - claimed that the trial has "no scientific foundation" and "borders on quackery."

Pastor's response to such criticism? "A hundred years ago they said the same things about cardiopulmonary resuscitation and organ transplantation - now look how far we've come."

We take a closer look at the science behind Pastor and team's project and ask, "Is it really feasible to bring someone back from the dead?"

Defined as the "irreversible loss of all functions of the brain, including the brainstem," brain death occurs as a result of brain injury. This may occur through TBI, stroke, or the loss of blood flow or oxygen to the brain.

Brain death is defined as the complete, irreversible loss of all brain function.

Brain death is a legal definition of death; once brain function ceases, the body is no longer able to perform activities that are crucial for our survival, such as breathing, regulation of heartbeat, and swallowing.

To declare a person as brain dead, a physician must confirm a complete absence of brain reflexes - such as pupillary response to light and facial muscle movement - and the inability to breathe without ventilatory support. Other tests may also be required to confirm brain death.

Brain death should not be confused with coma. While a person in a coma is unconscious, parts of their brain are still functioning, and there is a possibility that their condition may improve.

Patients who are brain dead, however, are considered to have a complete loss of brain function, and there is no way to overturn this - yet.

Pastor and team believe that their controversial trial represents the first step toward the regeneration of neurons and the restoration of neuronal functioning in humans. In essence, they believe that they could one day achieve what most people perceive to be unachievable: restoring life to the clinically dead.

Attempting to reverse the irreversible
The clinical trial will involve a four-step approach. The spinal cords of the brain dead subjects will be injected with stem cells, which are cells that have the ability to differentiate into other cell types, including neurons.

"The stem cells - minimally manipulated, autologous, adult stem cells derived and expanded from patient fat and/or peripheral blood - will serve as some new 'bricks' in the regenerative process," Pastor explained to Medical News Today.

Subjects will also be injected with a peptide called BQ-A - derived from ooplasms, the cytoplasm of an egg, or oocyte - which Pastor told us will act as the "blue print" and "mortar" in the regenerative process.

Researchers plan to use a four-step approach to restore neuronal activity in clinically dead subjects.
As well as aiding neuronal growth, Pastor explained that the peptides will help to reprogram and recondition the surrounding tissue at the location where stem cells are injected, and they will also help to target and destroy components of dead tissue.

Once these steps are complete, median nerve stimulation techniques and transcranial laser therapy will be applied to each subject for 15 days, with the aim of spurring connections between the newly formed neurons.

"In short, it is our contention that there will be no 'single magic bullet' for success and any traditional single drug approach would be fairly futile. Hence why we are employing this type of 'combinatorial' approach," Pastor told MNT.

After the procedure, each subject will be continuously monitored in the intensive care unit. In particular, the researchers will monitor the patients' brain activity, pulse, blood pressure, respiration changes, and oxygen saturation.

"Our main hope is that this trial will show us that the 'gray zone' between deep coma and irreversible coma is indeed just that - 'gray,' and that, with the tools of 21st century regenerative medicine, that there are possibilities to push that transition in the opposite direction to save lives, as well as begin a new chapter in the treatment of the wide range of consciousness disorders - coma, persistent vegetative state, locked-in syndrome, etc.," said Pastor.

"Secondarily," he added, "we hope the trial will answer certain 'deeper' issues about the human mind."

Individually, each of the four techniques that Pastor and team plan to use in their trial have shown promise for improving brain functioning. Research indicates that stem cell therapy and transcranial laser therapy may help to repair brain damage.

Furthermore, studies have shown that median nerve stimulation can help to awaken comatose patients, while transcranial laser therapy has been found to improve recovery from neurodegenerative disease.

But are such studies enough to suggest that, when combined, these techniques can revive patients who have been declared brain dead? Some researchers have their doubts.

"By definition, DNC [death by neurological criteria] requires irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brainstem. As such, the proposal that DNC could be reversible is self-contradictory," Caplan and Lewis wrote in their article last year.

Echoing Caplan and Lewis's comments, Dr. Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist at the Centre for Medical Education at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, told The Telegraph, "While there have been numerous demonstrations in recent years that the human brain and nervous system may not be as fixed and irreparable as is typically assumed, the idea that brain death could be easily reversed seems very far-fetched, given our current abilities and understanding of neuroscience."

Some researchers say that the idea of reversing brain death is 'far-fetched.'

Responding to such denunciation, Pastor told MNT that there have been numerous reports of spontaneous brain death reversal in scientific literature in recent years. He pointed us toward the case of a 10-month-old boy who, after being declared clinically brain dead, began breathing 15 hours later.

"Although controversial, hotly debated, and resulting in poor prognoses, we believe such cases highlight that things are not always black or white in this area of severe disorders of consciousness, and provide important clues for further investigation," said Pastor.

Pastor and team are far from surprised by the criticism their project has received. "[...] being something that has never been attempted and at the very far end of the disorders of consciousness spectrum, it seems a 'very far-fetched' project to many - although not to all - and this is indeed true."

"However, the 'very far-fetched' criticism is one we have anticipated from the neuroscience community, and frankly it has been quite fun when we sit down to explain our ideas and convert these folks to the 'Wow. That is still far-fetched but you may be on the right path to get it done, eventually.'"

Other concerns that researchers have raised about the trial are of an ethical nature. Following on from their comments that brain death reversal has "no scientific foundation," Lewis and Caplan wrote, "The suggestion that DNC could be reversed provides families of brain dead patients a cruel, false hope for recovery. This is especially so for families that believe in reincarnation."

Pastor strongly refutes this claim and says that it could be argued that even approved medications are offering "false hope."

Critics say that the trial is offering 'false hope' to the families of brain dead patients.

"Why? Because we know that based on the inclusion/exclusion criteria of our registrational clinical trials - combined with the fact that, in 2017, we incorporate next to zero pharmacogenomic or, more importantly, toxicogenomic information in our study designs - that all of the 'disease output-targeted' drugs that eventually make it to the market will only work in a small percentage of their target population," Pastor told MNT.

"This is a widely acknowledged, but largely unspoken truth from the pharmaceutical industry - we are not offering false hope - it is just hope."

Another ethical concern involves the neurological state of trial subjects. The aim of the trial is to shift patients from a brain dead state into a state of minimal consciousness, or a coma. Some critics claim that reverting a patient to such a state is immoral.

"Aside from being in a sense a bit flattering, [this] translates to that we may succeed in transitioning a brain dead subject into a coma subject and, in doing so, we will have a) given the subject a poor quality of life, and b) added new costs to the healthcare system," Pastor told MNT.

"We find this critique ludicrous - [...] you can debate forever whether a dead person has a better quality of life than a coma patient - but to think that if we succeed at such a monumental scientific transition, that we would actually then stop, and not try to continue on with patients through the disorders of consciousness spectrum to an eventual state of wakefulness, is just silly," he added.

"And in a system that spends $7 trillion annually, we think that a few coma patients would not add significantly to additional burden."

There is no doubt that Pastor and team's proposal is eccentric; in these modern times, when we have yet to find a cure for cancer, reversing brain death seems an impossible feat.

But Pastor strongly believes that such an achievement may not be as far away as many people believe. Talking to MNT, he noted that cancer and many other diseases are often caused by "multiple biological processes that interact in complex networks."

"Brain death - not to simplify it by any means - by comparison has only one ultimate, quite well defined end regulatory state, making it much easier for us to develop, target, or modify our methods towards a successful outcome," he said.

"Let's just say we believe that this first 'level' of brain death [...] will be solved long before cancer ever is."

If this first phase of the Reanima Project is successful, Pastor said that the team will then attempt to restore independent breathing and heartbeat to each patient. "Yielding a subject that is no longer technically dead anymore, the next step is continue on with patients through the disorders of consciousness spectrum, to an eventual state of wakefulness," he added.

Pastor and team hope that by this time next year, they will have conquered the first step toward making a seemingly impossible feat possible: bringing the dead back to life.
Well that's some freakie sci-fi shit. But then, the internet or gene-splicing or space flight or (as noted above) resuscitation of any kind would have been so once.

If they can do it, it'll be arguably a fundamental revolution in human nature, though I presume that there would still be fairly final limits to what a person could be revived from (like the body decaying past a certain point).

I'm not sure what the moral objection would be for an atheist, beyond the "false hope" issue, though I imagine advances in this field would play merry hell with all sorts of laws concerned with when someone qualifies as "legally dead". But for the religious its going to raise some horrible quandaries. If you bring someone back who was unambiguously dead, do they still have the same soul, or has it moved on? If we presume that their soul returns to their body, then are we pulling them out of heaven against their will? Or worse, what about if you get a bunch of people revived from unambiguous death who have no recollection of an afterlife whatsoever?

Oh well, I'm sure the devout will be as good at rationalizing away or ignoring evidence that conflicts with their beliefs as they always have been.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by AniThyng » 2019-04-26 07:32pm

What would we do if the process ultimately brings the patient back suboptimally e.g. alive but severely mentally impaired?
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Jub » 2019-04-26 08:01pm

AniThyng wrote:
2019-04-26 07:32pm
What would we do if the process ultimately brings the patient back suboptimally e.g. alive but severely mentally impaired?
The same thing we do when current methods like CPR or defibrillation produce that same result. Accept it as a possibility, assess risk factors for patients, and develop a set of best practice guidelines for when to use it and how to deal with all possible outcomes. You don't always get clean wins when it comes to bringing back people at the brink of death but you can minimize risks and inform people of the odds and possible outcomes.

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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2019-04-26 09:07pm

Pretty much.

Now, if it always brought back the patient severely impaired, or nearly always, that might be an argument against it for some. But I'd assume that it would ultimately come down to patient consent, just like CPR does- patients (or their legal representatives, if they are incapable of making their wishes known themselves) can choose to sign a Do Not Resuscitate Order, and I'm sure it would be easy enough to expand that to "Do Not Resurrect".
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Tribble » 2019-04-26 09:44pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2019-04-26 09:07pm
Pretty much.

Now, if it always brought back the patient severely impaired, or nearly always, that might be an argument against it for some. But I'd assume that it would ultimately come down to patient consent, just like CPR does- patients (or their legal representatives, if they are incapable of making their wishes known themselves) can choose to sign a Do Not Resuscitate Order, and I'm sure it would be easy enough to expand that to "Do Not Resurrect".
I signed a DNR Order for that very reason. I have absolutely no desire for the rest of my body to live on if my consciousness/sentience has been destroyed. Far better to use my organs saving others than having my body send the rest of its life just lying there IMO. Or potentially even worse, being "locked in" with no way of communicating with the outside world.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by tezunegari » 2019-04-26 11:17pm

My first question after reading this was: "Can this be used to heal brain damage?"
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Jub » 2019-04-26 11:55pm

tezunegari wrote:
2019-04-26 11:17pm
My first question after reading this was: "Can this be used to heal brain damage?"
Healing is debatable with the very limited research we have at the moment but this could work wonders as part of post-stroke treatments, a new method for preventing brain damage during organ transplants, and maybe even as a critical component in otherwise risky brain surgeries. I see this as more preventative than curative but that doesn't make it any less incredible in terms of what it could one day lead to.

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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by His Divine Shadow » 2019-05-29 11:52am

Somewhere, a shudder runs through David Cameron.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2019-05-29 04:37pm

His Divine Shadow wrote:
2019-05-29 11:52am
Somewhere, a shudder runs through David Cameron.
:lol:

If there is any justice in this cold universe, history will remember David Cameron for just two things: crippling his own country, and fucking pigs.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Broomstick » 2019-05-29 06:04pm

JI_Joe84 wrote:
2019-04-25 07:46pm
Donation organs will cease to be a thing once we fully fund stem cell research.
Once that is figured out then you can make all the organs you want. You could even take the DNA of the patient and make a better organ for them.
Uh huh.

What about rejection issues? Being able to grow organs from stem cells isn't going to solve that problem.

What about the time required to grow a new organ? What if the patient can't wait that long? Donated organs might continue to have some role in sustaining life while awaiting a "proper" replacement, just as we use donated blood for patients until their bodies can regenerate their own supply.

I do think being able to fix genetic defects to produce better organs would be a good thing... but because the DNA in the cells of such organs would be different from the original donors' DNA you might, again, have rejection issues. We just don't know when such differences would become a problem for the immune system.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Broomstick » 2019-05-29 06:07pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2019-04-26 06:30pm
If they can do it, it'll be arguably a fundamental revolution in human nature, though I presume that there would still be fairly final limits to what a person could be revived from (like the body decaying past a certain point).

I'm not sure what the moral objection would be for an atheist, beyond the "false hope" issue, though I imagine advances in this field would play merry hell with all sorts of laws concerned with when someone qualifies as "legally dead".
I'm not sure how anyone benefits from taking someone from "brain dead" to "in a coma", which is what they're talking about. I could see an atheist arguing that existence in a coma is not preferable to death or not any better than death.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2019-05-29 06:19pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 06:07pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2019-04-26 06:30pm
If they can do it, it'll be arguably a fundamental revolution in human nature, though I presume that there would still be fairly final limits to what a person could be revived from (like the body decaying past a certain point).

I'm not sure what the moral objection would be for an atheist, beyond the "false hope" issue, though I imagine advances in this field would play merry hell with all sorts of laws concerned with when someone qualifies as "legally dead".
I'm not sure how anyone benefits from taking someone from "brain dead" to "in a coma", which is what they're talking about. I could see an atheist arguing that existence in a coma is not preferable to death or not any better than death.
Keep in mind that this technology is very new- there's obviously the hope that it will develop further than it has, given time.

Also, a person in a coma at least theoretically has a chance of waking up. A brain dead person doesn't.

But religious views will obviously influence how individuals feel about this, in a lot of ways. Frankly, though, I expect more opposition from the religious than the atheists- arguments that its against God's will, "playing God", pulling people out of Heaven/Hell, etc.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Jub » 2019-05-29 07:19pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 06:04pm
What about rejection issues? Being able to grow organs from stem cells isn't going to solve that problem.
Isn't that solvable if you cultivate the patients own cells? Given that we've found stem cells in adults and are continuing to advance the field this will likely be a solved issue by the time vat grown/printed organs are common.
What about the time required to grow a new organ?
What are the odds that's going to take longer than the multiple years most people already spend on waiting lists? Especially if we can essentially print the organ layer by layer over a customized 3d printed scaffold to perfectly mimic the organ to be replaced.
Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 06:07pm
I'm not sure how anyone benefits from taking someone from "brain dead" to "in a coma", which is what they're talking about. I could see an atheist arguing that existence in a coma is not preferable to death or not any better than death.
That assumes come/severe impairment is the most likely outcome. It probably will be with our current techniques but that's also often the case with other forms of resuscitation. Just because you get the heart back to pumping doesn't mean the patient comes back with any real quality of life.

Whereas this technique could be more proactively done. If you suspect that your patient is at a high risk you start pumping this mixture while working to stabilize them. If that saves an extra 10-20% brain function that could make a large difference in the quality of life for the patient. Not to mention that it may be a key step towards making full-on brain transplants possible.

The other obvious thing is medical research. You could agree to the technique knowing that you'll be in a coma but that could allow teams to harvest organs more easily or study which areas of your brain recovered and which are now just firing randomly or not at all. I'd allow for that to happen with my body; with a possible time limit so I don't just end up a waste of resources in perpetuity.

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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Gandalf » 2019-05-29 07:48pm

Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 07:19pm
Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 06:04pm
What about rejection issues? Being able to grow organs from stem cells isn't going to solve that problem.
Isn't that solvable if you cultivate the patients own cells? Given that we've found stem cells in adults and are continuing to advance the field this will likely be a solved issue by the time vat grown/printed organs are common.
Interestingly, in some rat trials use of stem cells has been shown to prevent rejection, negating the need for the immunosuppressant medications. So while the organ still comes from somewhere, hopefully a vat, the recipient's stem cells can prevent it from being rejected.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Broomstick » 2019-05-29 08:10pm

Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 07:19pm
Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 06:04pm
What about rejection issues? Being able to grow organs from stem cells isn't going to solve that problem.
Isn't that solvable if you cultivate the patients own cells?
If you alter the DNA of the cells to correct genetic defects that might or might not be a great enough difference for the patients' immune system to pick up on it. We won't know until we try it.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 07:19pm
Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 06:04pm
What about the time required to grow a new organ?
What are the odds that's going to take longer than the multiple years most people already spend on waiting lists?
Waiting time is highly variable - some people have gotten lucky and received an organ almost immediately. Some die waiting.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 07:19pm
Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 06:04pm
I'm not sure how anyone benefits from taking someone from "brain dead" to "in a coma", which is what they're talking about. I could see an atheist arguing that existence in a coma is not preferable to death or not any better than death.
That assumes come/severe impairment is the most likely outcome. It probably will be with our current techniques but that's also often the case with other forms of resuscitation. Just because you get the heart back to pumping doesn't mean the patient comes back with any real quality of life.
And that is exactly why we have Do Not Resuscitate orders, and why even if we can sometimes get the heart going again the patient is taken off life support in days or weeks anyway.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 07:19pm
If that saves an extra 10-20% brain function that could make a large difference in the quality of life for the patient.
I don't think so. I don't think so because having only 10-20% brain function leaves you a drooling incompetent, unable to communicate or do much of anything. This technology would have to do a LOT better than that to be worthwhile.
Not to mention that it may be a key step towards making full-on brain transplants possible.
I'm not sure THAT is desirable or ethical, either.

If you DID do a brain transplant how are you going to make the nerve connections to enable sensory input and/or voluntary movement?

Where are you going to get the donor body? Either you'll have rejection issues, or if you grow a body you're essentially growing a clone - that is, another human being - and killing that person to extend your own life. I don't view that as ethical in any way.
The other obvious thing is medical research. You could agree to the technique knowing that you'll be in a coma but that could allow teams to harvest organs more easily or study which areas of your brain recovered and which are now just firing randomly or not at all. I'd allow for that to happen with my body; with a possible time limit so I don't just end up a waste of resources in perpetuity.
Well, OK, research - that's a legit reason. But as you yourself note, you'd want an end-point rather than being kept as a vegetable forever.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Jub » 2019-05-29 08:57pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 08:10pm
If you alter the DNA of the cells to correct genetic defects that might or might not be a great enough difference for the patients' immune system to pick up on it. We won't know until we try it.
Nobody said anything about DNA editing Broomy. A better organ could be a heart with slightly redesigned valves or kidneys with a greater ability to remove stones before they can grow large enough to cause problems. Purely structural changes that wouldn't change how the immune system sees the organ.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 07:19pm
Waiting time is highly variable - some people have gotten lucky and received an organ almost immediately. Some die waiting.
While that's true, in an age of vat-grown organs your insurance might have a spare copy of your most vital organs on hand or hospitals may keep a couple of sets of emergency organs with minimal rejection risks on hand for dire cases.

I don't think so. I don't think so because having only 10-20% brain function leaves you a drooling incompetent, unable to communicate or do much of anything. This technology would have to do a LOT better than that to be worthwhile.
If, as an example, current methods are 80% likely to save 50% function with a floor of 25% and a ceiling of 60% an extra 10 or 20% function saved is significant. If you're only able to save 10 to 20% you'd simply not use the brain drugs and let the patient go.
I'm not sure THAT is desirable or ethical, either.

If you DID do a brain transplant how are you going to make the nerve connections to enable sensory input and/or voluntary movement?
We can hope for advances in that field or, even now we might be able to attach the head of somebody who would otherwise die to a donor body. Being a quadriplegic may be preferable to death for some people.
Where are you going to get the donor body? Either you'll have rejection issues, or if you grow a body you're essentially growing a clone - that is, another human being - and killing that person to extend your own life. I don't view that as ethical in any way.
If you grow a clone but destroy the brain somewhere along the way, preferably before it develops consciousness, it's no different than an abortion. I assume you have no objection to those so why object to this?

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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Broomstick » 2019-05-30 04:24am

Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 08:57pm
Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 08:10pm
If you alter the DNA of the cells to correct genetic defects that might or might not be a great enough difference for the patients' immune system to pick up on it. We won't know until we try it.
Nobody said anything about DNA editing Broomy.
Not true:
JI_Joe84 wrote:
2019-04-25 07:46pm
Donation organs will cease to be a thing once we fully fund stem cell research.
Once that is figured out then you can make all the organs you want. You could even take the DNA of the patient and make a better organ for them.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 08:57pm
A better organ could be a heart with slightly redesigned valves or kidneys with a greater ability to remove stones before they can grow large enough to cause problems. Purely structural changes that wouldn't change how the immune system sees the organ.
Purely structural changes won't do jack for something like polycystic kidney disease. Growing new organs would allow the replacement of kidneys with that trait as they go bad, but short of rewriting the DNA there's no permanent fix for that. There are other disorders that can destroy organs in a similar manner.

Yes, being about to build a better physical structure would help a lot of people who have trouble due to developmental growth problems. Even so it's not going to cure everything.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 07:19pm
Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 08:10pm
Waiting time is highly variable - some people have gotten lucky and received an organ almost immediately. Some die waiting.
While that's true, in an age of vat-grown organs your insurance might have a spare copy of your most vital organs on hand or hospitals may keep a couple of sets of emergency organs with minimal rejection risks on hand for dire cases.
Uh-huh - who is going to pay for the on-going maintenance of your "spares"? This already an issue for people who bank sperm or eggs - it costs money to keep those on ice and if you can't pay the bill your cells get flushed.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 07:19pm
Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 08:10pm
I'm not sure THAT is desirable or ethical, either.

If you DID do a brain transplant how are you going to make the nerve connections to enable sensory input and/or voluntary movement?
We can hope for advances in that field or, even now we might be able to attach the head of somebody who would otherwise die to a donor body. Being a quadriplegic may be preferable to death for some people.
For some people. However, in today's quadriplegics, there is still some connection between the brain and the body via nerves that travel outside the spinal column. In a head transplant ALL connections would be severed, including nerves the regulate involuntary bodily processes. I'm not saying the problems are forever insurmountable, what I'm saying is that this is likely to be more complicated and difficult than "simply" keeping someone with a broken neck alive.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-29 07:19pm
Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-29 08:10pm
Where are you going to get the donor body? Either you'll have rejection issues, or if you grow a body you're essentially growing a clone - that is, another human being - and killing that person to extend your own life. I don't view that as ethical in any way.
If you grow a clone but destroy the brain somewhere along the way, preferably before it develops consciousness, it's no different than an abortion. I assume you have no objection to those so why object to this?
Destroy the brain early and you'll wind up with a very weak, possibly deformed body as without a brain the body would get no exercise, you'd have to guard against contractures and frozen joints, bedsores, bone loss, and so on. Wow, that sounds like fun. Well, maybe better than dying, I guess...

Keep in mind that these days when a baby is born largely without a brain (anacephaly) it is extremely difficult to even keep the baby alive. You're talking about artificially inducing this in a clone, then attempting to keep the body alive long enough for a transplant - how developed does a body have to be to transplant an adult brain into it?

Again, I don't think these things are quite as easy as folks think.
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Jub » 2019-05-30 03:16pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-30 04:24am
Purely structural changes won't do jack for something like polycystic kidney disease. Growing new organs would allow the replacement of kidneys with that trait as they go bad, but short of rewriting the DNA there's no permanent fix for that. There are other disorders that can destroy organs in a similar manner.

Yes, being about to build a better physical structure would help a lot of people who have trouble due to developmental growth problems. Even so it's not going to cure everything.
I never made a claim that you could fix every issue that way, only that organ could be improved without any gene therapy. Of course, you could also do a lot of gene therapy too as long as you don't change the expression of certain antibodies that trigger an immune response. The only question is which diseases we can't fix without facing organ rejection and how serious are these diseases.
Uh-huh - who is going to pay for the on-going maintenance of your "spares"? This already an issue for people who bank sperm or eggs - it costs money to keep those on ice and if you can't pay the bill your cells get flushed.
Sounds like something the rich might do in the US but that a socialized healthcare system may maintain (the generic emergency use organs, not the personalize banks of organs) in other nations. It may also be that they end up relatively quick and cheap to make so low immune response replacements are common at every hospital and can easily last the week or so it takes for your new organ to be completed.
For some people. However, in today's quadriplegics, there is still some connection between the brain and the body via nerves that travel outside the spinal column. In a head transplant ALL connections would be severed, including nerves the regulate involuntary bodily processes. I'm not saying the problems are forever insurmountable, what I'm saying is that this is likely to be more complicated and difficult than "simply" keeping someone with a broken neck alive.
So? People may still consider this preferable to death and that's assuming we never figure out any way to reattach nerves which isn't likely long term given the current research into the field. Is it better to be dead or to be stuck attached to a fancy bio-mechanical life support machine with control of everything from the shoulders up?
Destroy the brain early and you'll wind up with a very weak, possibly deformed body as without a brain the body would get no exercise, you'd have to guard against contractures and frozen joints, bedsores, bone loss, and so on. Wow, that sounds like fun. Well, maybe better than dying, I guess...
That assumes you're not growing these clones in an exo-womb where you can stimulate muscle activation and nerve growth and generally monitor the entire growth cycle. Though this seems slow, you'd ideally want to be able to grow/print individual limbs and organs and assemble a body from those. You might even toss in some cybernetic parts at this point perhaps substituting nerves with fibreoptics or replacing blood with a more efficient synthetic replacement.
Again, I don't think these things are quite as easy as folks think.
Nobody's saying it'll be easy or that any of this will ever transfer to medicine. We're hoping that current techniques will continue to advance and that newcomers become practical instead of withering on the vine. Maybe we're already close to a major plateau in medicine and don't have a lot of room to grow and improve but I'd prefer to hold out hope that we'll advance at a steady rate and master our own flesh someday.

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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Broomstick » 2019-05-30 04:28pm

Jub wrote:
2019-05-30 03:16pm
I never made a claim that you could fix every issue that way, only that organ could be improved without any gene therapy. Of course, you could also do a lot of gene therapy too as long as you don't change the expression of certain antibodies that trigger an immune response. The only question is which diseases we can't fix without facing organ rejection and how serious are these diseases.
Sure, I know you're not claiming this to be a cure all, I'm just raising some questions. These sorts of technologies are often more difficult to implement than people would like.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-30 03:16pm
Sounds like something the rich might do in the US but that a socialized healthcare system may maintain (the generic emergency use organs, not the personalize banks of organs) in other nations. It may also be that they end up relatively quick and cheap to make so low immune response replacements are common at every hospital and can easily last the week or so it takes for your new organ to be completed.
Or mechanical devices will be used - artificial kidneys a.k.a. "dialysis" have been around for decades now and are routine for those awaiting new kidneys. There are several types of devices to either assist a failing heart or temporarily replacement it entirely until a biological organ is available. There are a number of approaches to the problem.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-30 03:16pm
For some people. However, in today's quadriplegics, there is still some connection between the brain and the body via nerves that travel outside the spinal column. In a head transplant ALL connections would be severed, including nerves the regulate involuntary bodily processes. I'm not saying the problems are forever insurmountable, what I'm saying is that this is likely to be more complicated and difficult than "simply" keeping someone with a broken neck alive.
So? People may still consider this preferable to death and that's assuming we never figure out any way to reattach nerves which isn't likely long term given the current research into the field. Is it better to be dead or to be stuck attached to a fancy bio-mechanical life support machine with control of everything from the shoulders up?
That would be a highly individual decision.

On another message board we had a member with locked-in syndrome (he went by the name "blinky", because that's how he communicated) who had adapted to the situation and very much wanted to continue living despite the grievous limitations he had. Other people would not. And, of course, research is still being done in regards to restoring function either in damaged nerves or somehow bypassing/replacing them. I do think it is very important for people to realize that at present the best they could get would be life with absolutely no movement or sensation below the cut made to transplant their head (or brain - I dunno, maybe they could transplant your eyes along with it to give you some sensory input?))
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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Jub » 2019-05-30 05:34pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-30 04:28pm
Sure, I know you're not claiming this to be a cure all, I'm just raising some questions. These sorts of technologies are often more difficult to implement than people would like.
I appreciate that. If nobody ever raises questions nothing is ever answered. Plus, being grounded is usually the safer line of thought when looking at a new breakthrough.
Or mechanical devices will be used - artificial kidneys a.k.a. "dialysis" have been around for decades now and are routine for those awaiting new kidneys. There are several types of devices to either assist a failing heart or temporarily replacement it entirely until a biological organ is available. There are a number of approaches to the problem.
Of course. Use the right tool for the job and don't leap to surgically implanting a new organ unless you have to or doing so vasty improves length and quality of life.
That would be a highly individual decision.
Exactly. Plus, with a head transplant, depending on exact circumstances, you could probably keep full motor function in the face and jaw and even the vocal cords if you cut down deeply enough. That's more function than some people have.
On another message board we had a member with locked-in syndrome (he went by the name "blinky", because that's how he communicated) who had adapted to the situation and very much wanted to continue living despite the grievous limitations he had. Other people would not.
I hope never to face such a choice, but if it were between that life and death I think I'd choose life. With life, there is always hope for improvement.


[/quote]I do think it is very important for people to realize that at present the best they could get would be life with absolutely no movement or sensation below the cut made to transplant their head (or brain - I dunno, maybe they could transplant your eyes along with it to give you some sensory input?))[/quote]

If/when we get there I would hope that the medical team was clear on the likely outcomes and gave the patient the best possible information to make their choice. People would still have regrets but hopefully, we reach a point where those people, and many others, have assisted suicide as an option.

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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Broomstick » 2019-05-30 06:18pm

Jub wrote:
2019-05-30 05:34pm
I hope never to face such a choice, but if it were between that life and death I think I'd choose life. With life, there is always hope for improvement.
Even if there was no chance for improvement, some people find they can content themselves with what they have, even if that is not much, rather than lamenting what they don't have.
Jub wrote:
2019-05-30 05:34pm
I do think it is very important for people to realize that at present the best they could get would be life with absolutely no movement or sensation below the cut made to transplant their head (or brain - I dunno, maybe they could transplant your eyes along with it to give you some sensory input?))
If/when we get there I would hope that the medical team was clear on the likely outcomes and gave the patient the best possible information to make their choice. People would still have regrets but hopefully, we reach a point where those people, and many others, have assisted suicide as an option.
While I'm not going to say "never" I am really, really not comfortable with most types of "assisted suicide". There is a genuine slippery slope on that one and there have to be some extremely powerful safeguards/discouragements to prevent abuse. Not the least of problems: medical personnel often rate the quality of life of the handicapped as much worse than the handicapped people themselves do, which in the past has lead to some very ugly situations.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by Jub » 2019-05-30 07:16pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-05-30 06:18pm
Even if there was no chance for improvement, some people find they can content themselves with what they have, even if that is not much, rather than lamenting what they don't have.
Of course, it's just that my own mindset always wants to see what's next because of the hope for a better tomorrow. Others will, of course, have their own reasons.
While I'm not going to say "never" I am really, really not comfortable with most types of "assisted suicide". There is a genuine slippery slope on that one and there have to be some extremely powerful safeguards/discouragements to prevent abuse. Not the least of problems: medical personnel often rate the quality of life of the handicapped as much worse than the handicapped people themselves do, which in the past has lead to some very ugly situations.
Luxembourg and the Netherlands must be sliding freely down that slope then as it is legal in those nations. If they can have it and not devolve into what you fear why can't other nominally civilized nations have such?

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Re: Scientists claim to have restored cellular activity to the brains of dead pigs.

Post by SpottedKitty » 2019-05-30 07:34pm

That second article's intriguing. I wonder if whatever results they get will match up with the recovery that sometimes happens after someone's drowned in very cold water? I know the accepted "no vital signs" limit is just a few minutes, but I've read of people being successfully resuscitated after a lot longer than that under water. It's not common, but it does happen.
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