Scientists bring Dead Eyes Back to Life
Does this mean death can also be reversible?
Breakthrough science is the circulating news in recent weeks. To add on to this amazing trend, dead eyes from organ donors have been brought back to life. The discovery possibly hints at the availability of reversible brain death.
Photosensitive neuron cells in the retina can still respond to light and communicate with each other up to five hours after death. This means that the eyes are sending signals as if they are still living. The neurons in the eyes which were studied by U.S. scientists are the same neurons that form part of the central nervous system. The CNS makes up the brain and spinal cord which leads to the hypothesis that other cells within the CNS can be brought back to life.
In the journal Nature, the authors of the study claim it “raises the question of whether brain death, as it is currently defined, is truly irreversible.” Lead author Dr. Fatima Abbas of the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah says “We were able to wake up photoreceptor cells in the human macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for our central vision and our ability to see fine detail and color. In eyes obtained up to five hours after an organ donor’s death, these cells responded to bright light, colored lights, and even very dim flashes of light.”
Yale University researchers restarted the brains of 32 decapitated pigs. The pigs had been decapitated nearly five hours before the research but scientists managed to turn on the blood circulation and metabolism of the brains using precise chemical cocktails. This occurred in 2019 which may have led to this new discovery. However, even with Yale researchers’ discovery, experts claim the new research goes a step further by restoring b-waves.
“In Yale’s case, coordinated population activity of neurons in pig brains could not be revived. In our case, we were able to revive population responses from photoreceptor cells even up to five hours after death in the human central retina, an important part of our central nervous system. We were able to make the retinal cells talk to each other, the way they do in the living eye. Past studies have restored very limited electrical activity in organ donor eyes, but this has never been achieved in the macula, and never to the extent we have now demonstrated. The retina is part of our central nervous system so we think similar things might be seen also in the other parts of the brain.”
An assistant professor of ophthalmology & visual sciences at the University of Utah, Dr. Frans Vinberg, said.
Read more on the discovery HERE