When organs are cryopreserved, returning them to functionality is the hard part. Current warming techniques create small cracks in the tissues. New research is working on a method that could rewarm larger pieces of tissue without major damage. This new method could lead to storing organs for transplant.
Scientists from the University of Minnesota published their discovery in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The longer tissues are kept in the cold glassy state, the more possibility there is for cellular damage. The new method seeds the tissue to be preserved with nanoparticles, which heat up when exposed to a magnetic field. The process is called vitrification, converting glassy state tissue samples while preventing ice crystals from forming. The tissue is injected with iron oxide nanoparticles, which heat the sample uniformly when exposed to a magnetic field. The nanoparticles are then washed off when the tissue is rewarmed.
Existing warming methods can heat samples of a few milliliters in volume. The new method can rewarm tissue samples up to 50 milliliters in volume, maintaining biological viability. A kidney is about 450 to 500 milliliters in volume. For now, the new method will be tried on preserved heart valves until it can be used for entire organs.
There is an organ shortage in America, and some donated organs fail to get to their recipient in time. If organs could be stored and shipped, the transplant process would be transformed. The technology still needs more refining before it can heat up full size organs rather than just small samples. The researchers have two patents on the new heating method and is working with Tissue Testing Technologies.
Joseph, Andrew. “Researchers can put organs in a deep freeze. Scientists say they may have a way to bring them back.” In the Lab. STAT, 1 Mar 2017. Web. 2 Mar 2017.