New Process Extends Organ Storage

Synthetic solution combined with proteins adds days to storage life

MONDAY, July 22, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- In the late 1980s, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers developed a synthetic solution that could safely store organs outside the body for longer periods. Their advance, known as the UW Solution, became a standard technique in organ preservation.

Now, researchers at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine have raised the bar. They say their latest improvement could ease the nationwide shortage of transplantable organs and lead to more successful transplant surgeries.

Before the UW Solution, organs were kept alive with blood-based solutions. But because these solutions were natural, they could store livers for only six hours and kidneys for up to three days. This often resulted in organ damage, which lead to chronic rejection or a recipient's need for dialysis.

To improve these results, in 1986, UW-Madison researchers Folkert Belzer and James Southard developed a synthetic solution -- the UW Solution -- that increased storage times for such organs as livers and pancreases from six to 36 hours.

Though the UW Solution meant organs could be stored for longer periods, it still meant injury to the organs was possible once storage times exceeded a day.

The latest improvement involves the UW Solution combined with small proteins called trophic factors. These factors stimulate growth and DNA repair. When the researchers added a group of trophic factors to the original UW Solution that stored canine kidneys, says UW-Madison veterinary surgeon Jonathan McAnulty, "we had a marked improvement in the quality and length of storage."

With the modified solution, harvested kidneys could be kept alive for six days with little damage, McAnulty adds in a prepared statement. His results are published in the August issue of the American Journal of Transplantation.

More information

For details on organ transplants, check the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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