Apr 22, 2015 10:49 AM By Susan Scutti
More than 6,000 liver transplants, a delicate operation that hinges on timing, are performed each year in the United States. Now, researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology have developed a new technique that extends the time that donated organs last and so should increase the pool of available time-sensitive organs. The procedure cools livers down to 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit while still supplying oxygen, resulting in more successful transplants than the current standard.
One catch: The method requires more finesse and testing before becoming available for humans, says lead author, Dr. Takashi Tsuji, a scientist who specializes in organ regeneration. “Optimizing the scale of the system for humans while still making it portable will likely take about three years,” he stated in a press release. “Once that is accomplished, we should be able to begin the first human trials within a year or two.”
Left to right: a natural liver, a liver preserved at 22°C, a liver preserved at standard 4°C.Courtesy of RIKEN.
Source: Ishikawa J, Oshima M, Iwasaki F, et al. Hypothermic temperature effects on organ survival and restoration. Scientific Reports. 2015.