by Pei-Wen Wang
With the advance of cell regeneration and gene editing, death can be redefined with these new technologies, regardless whether such a topic will involve issues regarding ethics or not.
Scientists revived the cells of pigs and blood flow
In August 2022, a team in the U.S. scientists successfully restored blood flow and cell function in a pig after an hour of its death. This discovery brings new hope for a series of future medical applications. The most direct impact lies in that it can help organs function for a longer time, which may save the life of patients who need organ transplantation.
In 2019, this team restored the cellular activity in the brain of the pig that had been decapitated, which made a breakthrough in all realms of sciences. In a new study, published in the journal Nature, the research team is seeking methods to apply this technology throughout the body. The team induced cardiac arrest in anesthetized pigs to block blood flow throughout the body, where the pig had been dead for an hour.
Next, the team pumped a fluid containing the pig’s own blood, a synthetic form of the protein hemoglobin, and chemical compounds intended to prevent blood clots from forming and cells from self-destructing. During the next six hours, the blood in the pigs began to circulate again, and the pig showed signs of cellular repair unfolding in organs such as the heart, liver, and kidney.
U.S. gene company tryies to bring back to life Tasmanian tigers & mammoths
Replicants involve ethical issues, and reviving extinct animals can be a grey area. Using the most advanced gene editing technology, scientists have brought back to life Tasmanian tigers, a marsupial that has been extinct for a century. Now, a U.S. team of gene editing is aiming at doing the same to a mammoth.
The University of Melbourne in Australia teams up with the scientists with the U.S. company Colossal Biosciences to bring Tasmanian tigers back to life. Scientists sew together the hereditary substance of a Tasmanian tiger and the DNA of Dunnart, a marsupial which is Tasmanian tiger’s closest relatives. In this way, they try to cook up a new animal that is nearly identical to Tasmanian tigers, which is believed to bring balance to Australia’s ecology that has lost biodiversity for decades.
Genome engineering works on Tasmanian tigers’ DNA, engineering it with cells taken from their closest relative species. In 2021, Colossal announced that it aims at bringing back the woolly mammoth by using hereditary substance from Asian elephants and DNA from a frozen mammoth to revive one version of the species in history.
The advancement of technology might help humans harness the natural and its order, or there could be unimaginable consequences; it is a question that we must all ask ourselves.