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Groundbreaking discovery: some genes remain active for days after death
Is there life after death when the heart has already stopped beating? All people wonder what happens when you stop living. Not only clergymen of religions are concerned about the state after death, but also medical professionals. In doing so, they discovered amazing things. Some genes are only active after death.
Scientists from Washington University in Seattle made a breakthrough discovery of what happens to our genes after death. They found that some genes in our bodies are only activated after we die. Other genes are still active for days after death. The experts published the results of their study in the online archive of "biorxiv".
Some genes are still active four days after death
Is there a life after death? This is certainly a question that has dominated human thinking for a long time. In an investigation, scientists from Washington University in Seattle discovered that the genes of a dead animal were still active after four days. Genes that are involved, for example, in creating an embryo or related to the development of cancer increase their activity after death, say the doctors. Some genes only started to activate after the time of death.
Research can help forensics and transplant recipients
The new research could potentially help reduce the increased risk of developing cancer after a transplant, the researchers explain. In addition, there is a possibility that the results could help forensics in the investigation of murder cases by providing information about when the victim died.
Researchers are investigating what happens to more than 1,000 genes after death
The study started as an experiment out of curiosity to determine what would happen to us when we die, says scientist Professor Peter Noble. We can probably get a lot of information about life by studying the effects of death. In their study, the researchers investigated what happened to more than 1,000 genes in mice and zebrafish after they died.
Genes in dead animals show changes even after days
Changes were found in the genes of the dead animals, up to four days after the death of the zebra fish and up to two days in the deceased mice, the authors say. At first we assumed that the sudden death is comparable to a car that runs out of petrol while driving on the highway. The engine pistons and spark plugs continue to work for a short time, but then the car comes to a standstill and "dies", explains Professor Noble.
Hundreds of genes are still active many hours after death
In the study, the scientists found hundreds of genes that were still active many hours after mortem. Some became more active days after the animal died, the experts explain. Compared to the example of a car on a freeway, one would never expect the windshield wiper to come on suddenly or the car to continue honking for days after the engine has stopped, explains author Noble.
Some so-called development genes only activate after death
Since the increased postmortem activation of genes was observed in both zebrafish and mice, it is reasonable to assume that similar phenomena also occur in other multicellular life forms, explains Professor Noble. Some of these genes have been involved in stimulating the immune system or managing stress better. Other genes belonged to the so-called development genes. These are involved in the formation of embryos and have been dormant in us since our birth. These developmental genes reactivated after the test animal died, which was very surprising for us, adds Professor Noble. (as)