Supercooled livers last for days
Solution that protects rat livers from freezing could extend transplant window for human organs.
When a human donor organ becomes available, transplant surgeons have only about 12 hours to collect and transplant the tissue before it breaks down. But a slow-cooling method that first chills rat livers and then drops the temperature to below freezing — allowing them to be stored in a ‘supercooled’ but non-frozen state — keeps them fresh for three days. If the method works for human organs, it could drastically increase the number that are available for transplantation.
Researchers have attempted to freeze organs for decades to provide more time to transport and match them to recipients. But the combination of freezing and thawing irreparably damages cells, especially if ice forms inside them. So medical engineer Korkut Uygun, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and his colleagues developed a method that aims to skip the ice-forming stage of freezing altogether.