Every minute, around 108 people die on this planet – but the moment of death doesn’t actually mean every part of the body is dead.
In fact some cells stay live – and some chemical processes actually increase after death, according to a study in Open Biology.
Talking to Live Science, Peter Noble of the Unviersity of Washington said, ‘Not all cells are ‘dead’ when an organism dies. Different cell types have different life spans, generation times and resilience to extreme stress.
‘It is likely that some cells remain alive and are attempting to repair themselves, specifically stem cells.
‘Inner ear stem cells from mice can be cultured after 5–10 days postmortem and connective tissue cells from goats can be cultured for 41 – 160 days postmortem.’
Researchers found that gene expression – a chemical process involving genetic instructions – actually increases after death, in tests on zebrafish.
Instead of shutting down all at once, gene transcription shuts down slowly in a step-wise shutdown’, the researchers say.
The find does not mean that people or animals can be brought back to life – but it could provide important insights into cancer, and organ transplants, Dr Noble said.