Organ transplants: ‘Supercooling’ keeps organs fresh

‘Supercooling’ keeps organs fresh

A new technique can preserve organs for days before transplanting them, US researchers claim. “Supercooling” combines chilling the organ and pumping nutrients and oxygen through its blood vessels.

Tests on animals, reported in the journal Nature Medicine, showed supercooled livers remained viable for three days, compared with less than 24 hours using current technology.

If it works on human organs, it has the potential to transform organ donation. As soon as an organ is removed from the body, the individual cells it is made from begin to die.

Cooling helps slow the process as it reduces the metabolic rate of the cells. Meanwhile, surgeons in the UK carried out the first “warm liver” transplant in March 2013 which used an organ kept at body temperature in a machine.

The technique being reported first hooks the organ up to a machine which perfuses the organ with nutrients. It is then cooled to minus 6C.


In experiments on rat livers, the organs could be preserved for three days. One of the researchers, Dr Korkut Uygun, from the Harvard Medical School, told the BBC the technique could lead to donated organs being shared around the world.

“That would lead to better donor matching, which would reduce-long term organ rejection and complications, which is one of the major issues in organ transplant,” he said.

He also argued that organs which are normally rejected, as they would not survive to the transplant table, might be suitable if they were preserved by supercooling.

“That could basically eliminate waiting for a organ, but that is hugely optimistic,” Dr Uygun said. Further experiments are now needed to see if the technology can be scaled up from preserving a 10g (0.35oz) rat liver to a 1.5kg (3.3lb) human liver.

The researchers believe the technology could work on other organs as well.

Dr Rosemarie Hunziker, from the US National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, said: “It is exciting to see such an achievement in small animals by recombining and optimizing existing technology.

“The longer we are able to store donated organs, the better the chance the patient will find the best match possible, with both doctors and patients fully prepared for surgery.

“This is a critically important step in advancing the practice of organ storage for transplantation.”

Source: updated news

India emerging as liver transplant hub’

India is emerging as a global hub for liver transplant with expanded medical facilities, an expert said here Friday.

“Around 50-60 percent of live transplant patients are from foreign countries,” said Vivek Vij, director, Liver Transplant Programme in Fortis Hospital here.

“The reason India has emerged as a hub for liver transplant is because of the poor medical facilities in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Cambodia and other African nations,” he added.

Vij was speaking on the occasion of Fortis Hospital becoming the first hospital in Uttar Pradesh to perform 100 liver transplants.

“Since the inception of the hospital in 2012, Fortis Noida has recorded a 100 percent donor and 97 percent recipient survival rate, surpassing the international standards for safety and establishing the hospital as a coveted centre for liver transplant.”

He said the hospital has also initiated a lot of campaigns and drives to raise awareness about liver-related diseases.

Source: Business Standard

Synthetic organ technology moving forward


Since 2008, eight patients have successfully undergone procedures in which their badly-damaged tracheas were replaced with man made windpipes.

Now, a Boston-area company is preparing to manufacture the scaffolds used to grow these synthetic organs on a large scale, MIT Technology Review reported.

Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology (HART) makes synthetic windpipes by growing a patient’s own stem cells on a lab-made scaffold. The company is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test the system and is currently conducting trials in Russia.

Researchers hope that in the future, this scaffolding technique could be used to grow other organs as well, such as an esophagus, heart valve or kidney. If successful, the technology could help provide a solution to the country’s organ transplant shortage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates there are 120,000 people on waiting lists for an organ and this number underestimates the actual need, Joseph Vacanti, a surgeon-scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a leader in tissue-engineering research, told MIT Technology Review.

“The only way we are going to meet that real need is to manufacture living organs,” Vacanti, who is not affiliated with HART, said.

Source: Top news today


Hand, face transplants regulated like other organs

Sure your liver or kidney could save someone’s life. But would you donate your hands, or your face? Signing up to become an organ donor may get more complicated than just checking a box on your driver’s license.

The government is preparing to regulate the new field of hand and face transplants like it does standard organ transplants, giving more Americans who are disabled or disfigured by injury, illness or combat a chance at this radical kind of reconstruction.

Among the first challenges is deciding how people should consent to donate these very visible body parts that could improve someone’s quality of life — without deterring them from traditional donation of hearts, lungs and other internal organs needed to save lives.

”Joe Blow is not going to know that now an organ is defined as also including a hand or a face,” said Dr. Suzanne McDiarmid, who chairs the committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, that will develop the new policies over the next few months.

Making that clear to potential donors and their families is critical — ”otherwise we could undermine public trust,” said McDiarmid, a transplant specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

”The consent process for the life-saving organs should not, must not, be derailed by a consent process for a different kind of organ, that the public might think of as being very different from donating a kidney or a heart or a liver,” she added.

These so-called ”reconstructive transplants” are experimental, and rare. The best estimates are that 27 hand transplants have been performed in the U.S. since 1999, and about seven partial or full face transplants since 2008, said Dr. Vijay Gorantla, of the University of Pittsburgh reconstructive transplant program.

But they’re gradually increasing as more U.S. hospitals offer the complex surgeries, the Defense Department funds research into the approach for wounded veterans — and as transplant recipients go public to say how the surgeries have improved their lives.

”These hands are blessed hands to me,” said Lindsay Aronson Ess, 30, of Richmond, Va., who received a double hand transplant in 2011. She had lost her hands and feet to a life-threatening infection in 2007.

Until now, deciding who qualifies for a hand or face transplant, and how to find a match and approach a potential donor’s family all have been done on an informal, case-by-case basis.

There has been no way to tell which hospitals’ techniques work best and how patients ultimately fare.

There have been reports of two deaths related to face transplants in other countries, and some transplanted hands have had to be amputated.

Source: Teleram news