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Volume 568 Issue 7752, 18 April 2019

Turning back time

The mammalian brain is extremely sensitive to fluctuations in oxygen supply and even short periods of time without blood circulation and oxygen can lead to cell death and irreparable damage. In this week’s issue, Nenad Sestan and his colleagues reveal a technological platform consisting of a perfusion device, a cytoprotective and anti-neuronal activity solution, as well as a surgical procedure that can restore microcirculation and cellular functions in an isolated porcine brain multiple hours after death. The system, named BrainEx, is designed to mimic pulsating blood flow at normal body temperature as it circulates the protective solution through the isolated brain. Four hours after the porcine brains were removed from the body, the researchers introduced them to the BrainEx system. During a six-hour perfusion period, the team saw a reduction in cell death and the restoration of some cellular functions including synaptic activity, but in the absence of global electrical activity. The team says that it may be possible to use its perfusion system on other organs besides the brain to preserve tissue function after the death of the host.

Cover image: Marin Balaić

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