Scientists preserved a complete rabbit brain, leaving it intact through a new cryonics method. The study published in the journal Cryobiology show the very first successful experiment that achieves the full long-term preservation of a mammalian brain.
The team of researchers received on Tuesday the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize awarded by the Brain Preservation Foundation at the 21st Century Medicine based in California.
“The brain was able to be sliced and viewed in an electron microscope, which suggested that all the connections had been preserved,” commented Michael Cerullo, Brain Preservation Foundation’s psychiatrist.
Neuroscientist Kenneth Hayworth said every neuron and synapse appeared “beautifully preserved” across the rabbit brain. As one of the judges, he was allowed to hold the brain when it was still glassy solid.
For the experiment, the scientists used an entirely new cryonics method called the aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation (ASC). According to Tech Times, the process involved quickly pouring glutaraldehyde through the rabbit brain’s vascular system, preventing the metabolic damage and stabilizing the tissue.
Following this process, researchers perfused the rabbit brain with 65 percent ethylene glycol and let it cool at -211 degrees Fahrenheit. The new method also involves sodium dodecyl sulfate, a commonly used detergent in most labs which allows the penetration of the cryoprotectant in the rabbit brain without producing shrinkage.
The ASC method maintains the brain’s synapses and the neural circuits, as well as it keeps the cell membranes and intracellular structures intact during preservation, as revealed by electron microscope images from the rabbit brain.
The method was developed by MIT graduate Robert McIntyre and 21CM Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Gregory M. Fahy. A team of surgeons, microscopists, and other advisors helped in the process.
Many experts among the scientific community claim that cryonics is not capable of preserving the synaptic circuitry of the brain, but authors of this study are proud that their outcomes prove the opposite.
Hayworth hopes the findings contribute to a change in the way scientists see cryonics, as they offer a new challenge regarding the development of a surgical process that can be applied to humans based on the successful animal experiments.
Source: Tech Times