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Brainstorm Health: Zombie Pigs, Bubble Boy Therapy, Human CRISPR Trials

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Hello and happy hump day, readers.

I’d like to preface this by saying, we live in interesting times. Times of gene editing and cancer immunotherapy, pictures of black holes 55 million light years out, and, apparently, zombie pig brains.

Yale researchers say they were able to induce cellular activity in disembodied pig brains four hours after those brains’ former hosts had slipped the surly bonds of life. The process they used was, well, fascinating.

“The technique restored some crucial functions, such as the ability of cells to produce energy and remove waste, and helped to maintain the brains’ internal structures,” according to Nature.

But wait, it gets better. The prospect of literally resurrecting a deceased organ like the brain presents some interesting ethical dilemmas—including that of consciousness. So the researchers made provisions to shut down the brains’ abilities to fire off neurons through a preservative solution. Anesthetics were also on hand to shut down anything approaching complex brain activity if detected.

This isn’t just cool sci-fi tech; it could have real practical applications, such as the restoration of critical functions to brain injury victims. The fact that it also raises some questions about the very nature of death is a convenient add-on.