By Adam Smeltz
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, 12:01 a.m.
An organ-cooling device that preserves livers from pigs might protect human livers for transplantation, a discovery that could help save untold lives, a University of Pittsburgh researcher said.
Dr. Paulo Fontes said UPMC Presbyterian and Montefiore in Oakland could run the first human trial of the method this year and enlist 10 liver transplant patients to start, pending approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Researchers expect the approach developed at Pitt’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine could sustain some human livers that doctors might not transplant otherwise. Up to 40 percent of donated livers can’t be used for transplantation because oxygen deprivation in storage and transit leads to too much tissue damage, said Fontes, a deputy director at the institute.
“That bothers me a lot,” he said, adding that organs from donors with medical problems are often not suitable for transplants. “We’re not increasing our output.”