Published: Wed, January 15, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

New machine can keep livers alive outside body for one week

New machine can keep livers alive outside body for one week

The potential: Livers can now only be stored for up to 24 hours on ice before transplant, so a machine that can keep them alive for a week could allow many more people to get transplants.

The research was published January 13 in the journal Nature Biotechnology. It may save many lives of patients with liver disease or cancer. This means that recipients of the transplants would have only a precious time window before they could receive the liver.

In a world-first, a newly unveiled machine repairs injured human livers and keeps the organ alive outside of the human body for up to a week, showing promise in the treatment of those awaiting life-saving liver transplants around the world.

How it works: The machine re-creates a level of pressure similar to that found inside the body, and pumps oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the livers while removing cell waste products like carbon dioxide.

In the U.S. alone, Columbia Surgery reports that there are almost 17,000 people awaiting a transplant for a variety of reasons, including when a person's liver fails due to injury or illness or to treat rare disorders.

The Liver4Life project was developed under the umbrella of Wyss Zurich Institute, which brought together highly specialised technical and biomedical knowledge of experts from the University Hospital Zurich.

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The perfusion machine in operation.

The approach was then tweaked and tested on 10 human livers that had been stored traditionally but turned down for transplantation due to their poor quality.

"The good fortune of this distinctive perfusion gadget - evolved through a gaggle of surgeons, biologists and engineers - will pave the best way for brand new programs in transplantation and most cancers medication, serving to sufferers and not using a liver grafts to be had", mentioned learn about researcher Pierre-Alain Clavi from the College Sanatorium Zurich in Switzerland.

The device is described in the journal Nature Biotechnology as a complex perfusion system which supports organs by mimicking core body functions of the liver. Of these 10 injured livers, the perfusion machine turned into once in a situation to coax six aid to health after seven days. Now the donated as well as damaged livers could be preserved for a seven day period. But with the new technology, researchers have significantly extended this period. "The biggest challenge in the initial phase of our project was to find a common language that would allow communication between the clinicians and engineers", explains Prof. Additionally, a majority of the livers presented bile production, which is one of the "most convincing indicators of liver viability after transplantation".

However, Clavien said the system would be used for livers initially stored on ice but deemed too poor quality for immediate transplantation, and that in future it may also be used to boost the quality of marginal livers.

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