Researchers at Yale University used a new technology to restore cells in some organs of pigs that had just died, bringing the animals’ cells back to function. The findings, which were published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, raise profound ethical questions about how medicine defines death but also teases new possibilities for the collection of human organs for transplant.
“My eyes went wide,” Brendan Parent, an assistant professor of bioethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, said about the moment he first read the new findings. The research is still in an early, experimental phase and many years from potential use in humans. It could ultimately help to extend the lives of people whose hearts have stopped beating or who have suffered a stroke. The technology also shows potential to dramatically shift how organs are collected for transplant and increase their availability to patients in need.