The preservation and storage time of viable rat livers for transplantation in other rats has been significantly extended to up to four days. These findings, published this week in Nature Medicine, could directly address the current donor organ shortage crisis in humans.
Extending the length of time human organs can be preserved could have a significant impact on the practice of clinical liver transplantation, as the current limits of conventional organ storage are about six to 12 hours for human organs. It would allow time to optimally prepare organ recipients for transplant, as well as allow the use of donor organs collected from a wider geographical range.
Using an approach based on sub-zero non-freezing, or ‘supercooled’, tissue preservation as well as extracorporeal machine perfusion, Korkut Uygun and colleagues were able to demonstrate 100 per cent survival rates a month after rats were transplanted with livers preserved for three days. Almost 60 per cent of the rats survive beyond a month when the livers were preserved using this method for four days. By contrast, none of the rat livers remain viable when preserved for three days using traditional methods.