Scientists have managed to partially revive the hearts of pigs after they died from heart attacks – in a breakthrough experts believe could transform medicine and save thousands of lives a year.
The researchers developed a way to restore function in pig organs an hour after their hearts have stopped beating.
The technique has the potential to significantly increase the number of organs available for transplant, by enabling them to be preserved for longer after death.
It might also be able to help treat organs or tissue damaged during heart attacks or strokes – assuming, as experts predict, that it can be successfully applied to human hearts further down the line.
“We can restore some functions of cells, across multiple vital organs, that should have been dead,” said Professor Nenad Sestan, of Yale University, who led the research.
“These cells are functioning hours after they should not be,” he said.
Scientists had long thought that a flatlining heart, and the deficit of oxygen and nutrients that it brings, triggers a cascade of events that leads to irreparable cell death and damage to vital organs…