Scientists Bring Life To Eyes That Died Five Hours Earlier

Death is a natural part of life, and every living being will experience it at some point. It has been the subject of numerous research since the beginning of human history, and every discovery about it is quite fascinating. This time, scientists were able to “reverse death” on eyes whose original owners (organ donors) had died five hours before.

After exposing the eyes to light, the scientists detected that the photoreceptor cells in the human macula were responding to the stimuli. Hence, the study demonstrates that the photosensitive neuron cells, which are part of the nervous system and can be found within the retina, are still capable of responding to light and communicating.

The research may suggest that other neurons within the central nervous system could respond in a similar way and, therefore, could be restored. The study, led by Abbas, was published via Nature. The main subject of the research was to “figure out how neurons die and potential ways to bring them back to life.”

At first, the researchers were able to “revive” the photoreceptors cells, but things weren’t as positive as they seemed. That was because the organs were deprived of oxygen. Hence, one of the first tasks of the team was to find a way to restore the damage such an event caused.

Abbas, along with fellow scientist Frans Vinberg, designed a “special” transportation system that aimed to restore oxygenation and other vital nutrients to the eyes of the donors 20 minutes after the donors passed away. However, the experiment was innovative in several other ways.

The team also invented a device capable of producing electrical activity to stimulate the retinas and measure the output. Thanks to it, the team was able to record a “b wave” in postmortem human eyes. “B waves” are known as electrical signals linked to the health of the inner layers of the retina. Hence, this is a crucial achievement, as the macula layers were communicating with each other again – as if they were helping an alive person see.

This is the first time a b wave is recorded in the eyes of a deceased person.

While the achievement might just have been a small “discovery,” in the past, it was possible to “restore” electrical activity in organ donor eyes, but not at this level. It opens the door to several other studies in human vision.

Still, it’s important to keep in mind that even if the macula measures about 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) in diameter, it plays a key role in human vision.

It is known that neuron death is one of the key factors that define the death of the human body. Until now, it was believed that it was irreversible. However, this study proves that neurons can be “brought back to life,” and maybe that might make us redefine the concept of “death.”

This study may also allow researchers to develop visual therapies for working human eyes. The team also suspects that they might have discovered a new mechanism that would be in charge of limiting the speed of the central vision in humans.

Although the discovery is quite impressive and important for the scientific community, there is still a long way to go and several other findings to be made.

Humankind is still a mystery. There are many things we don’t know about ourselves yet, but discoveries like these bring us one step closer to understanding our bodies better and how we work.

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