Well, at least for some of your genes.
When we die, our bodies decay back into Earth. We are considered “clinically dead” when our heart stops pumping blood. It's a no-brainer, right?
But what if I tell you that it might not actually be the "end"? That there are two studies contending that some genes are still “alive” and are even more active after a person dies?
According to Peter Noble, a microbiologist at the University of Washington and author of both studies suggests that the findings could help in improving the preservation of organs in transplanting them. "It's an experiment of curiosity to see what happens when you die," he told Science Magazine.
In the first study, researchers removed and analyzed mRNA levels of newly dead mice and zebrafish. The mRNA plays an integral role in genetic activity, as elevated levels of it shows that it’s still functioning. In the other study, the researchers have found 1063 genes in mice and zebrafish that are “alive” for 48 to 96 hours after death, with some of the genes getting even more active within 24 hours after death.
They also found that the genes that are still active after death are usually active during embryo growth. Hence, they theorized that developing lifeforms have similarities with decaying ones on a cellular level.
However, the studies have not yet been peer reviewed, and lot more research is still needed. "Since our results show that the system has not reached equilibrium yet, it would be interesting to address the following question: what would happen if we arrested the process of dying by providing nutrients and oxygen to tissues?,” the authors write in one of their studies. “It might be possible for cells to revert back to life or take some interesting path to differentiating into something new or lose differentiation altogether, such as in cancer."
Nonetheless, the results of the studies gave new interesting information on death and its processes. "The headline of this study is that we can probably get a lot of information about life by studying death," said Noble.
Well, there's still life after death, after all--at least for about another 4 days.
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