- Certain genes have been
found to function even 48 hours after death
- This revelation
could be an important discovery for organ transplantation.
- This study on mice and zebrafish can open doorways to
After a person
breathes his last, his mortal remains are expected to
come to a complete standstill with no activity associated. However, Peter Noble
and Alex Pozhitkov, from the University of Seattle found that certain genes
kick started after death with their activity reaching the highest 24 hours
Dr. Noble says about taking up research on the dead "The headline of
this study is that we can probably get a lot of information about life by
‘Genes active after death will help determine time of death to the minute.’
research is a continuation of research on the dead that Dr. Noble took up a couple of years ago when the type and population of
microbes on organs after death was his primary aim. "It's an experiment of
curiosity to see what happens when you die," Noble says as his current research
focuses on genes that are active after death.
The discovery of
active genes from certain organs in the human cadaver have been reported before, but Dr. Noble's research takes it a step
higher as he analyzed about 1000 genes from the brain and liver samples of mice
was detected by quantifying the level of mRNA that was secreted. The mRNA
levels were recorded soon after death and for a few days after death.
The levels were
- for 4 days after death for
- for 2 days after death for mice.
515 mouse genes
and 548 zebrafish were found to peak after death, which was the opposite of
"the slow winding down" levels of other genes. These genes were found to peak
and the dip over time.
The genes that
have been found to get activated include genes that are present during fetal
development and are subsequently silenced after birth and genes that lead to
the development of cancer.
conducted on dead mice and zebrafish throws open insights into the functioning
of certain organ systems and will benefit key areas in medical research.
Benefits Expected from This Research
- Organ Transplants:
The functioning of
genes and their activation after death will enable better understanding of organ behavior after transplant from
to donor. The study could provide better perception about
organ rejection characteristics. Energy Supply: The fact that genes
switched on after death and their levels peaked after 24 hours showed that
there was enough energy supplies. Development
of Cancer after Liver
The study showed that genes that were activated during development of cancer
were triggered after death. This could explain the high risk for cancer
development after liver transplant. Using data
from such studies, organs can be screened for the presence of active cancer
genes before they are transplanted. Forensic Analysis: A complete
understanding of which genes peak and the levels noticed after 24 to 49 hours
will let forensic experts determine the time of death by up to minutes.
Gene activation after death could be a last attempt by the
body to revive, a natural quest for survival and which could aid medical
researchers to unearth certain mysteries surrounding the human body.
- 'Undead' genes come
alive days after life ends
Genes Don't Turn On Until After You Die