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Organs partially revived

Liver cells (top) and kidney cells (below) treated with an inert fluid (left) and with OrganEx (right)

David Andrijevic, Zvonimir Vrselja, Taras Lysyy, Shupei Zhang / Sestan Laboratory / Yale School of Medicine

Scientists at Yale University in the USA partially revived cells in several pig organs an hour after the animals’ hearts stopped beating. A team led by neuroscientist Nenad Sestan achieved the feat by pumping a fluid rich in oxygen, nutrients, and protective compounds through the animals’ circulatory system. The technology developed by the Yale group uses perfusion—similar to equipment that can function as a person’s heart and lungs during surgery—to pump a solution they formulated called OrganEx through the body. Sestan’s team successfully restored cell function in organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver for up to six hours—signs of electrical activity were detected in the heart, for example (Nature, August 3). In 2019, the group partially revived pig brains four hours after death (see Pesquisa FAPESP issue nº 279). The scientists envision a number of potential applications, including prolonging the life of organs for transplantation and restoring tissues damaged by heart attacks and strokes.