London, January 14 (IANS): Researchers have developed a machine that repairs injured human livers and keeps them alive outside the human body for about a week. It could help save the lives of many people with liver disease or cancer.
Lovkesh Anand, Consultant, Gastroenterology at Manipal Hospital in New Delhi, said: “Given the incidence of liver failure in our country and the low availability of organs for transplantation, this innovative development can transform the way we treat or transplant liver.”
“Until now, the liver can be stored outside the body for up to 12 hours and had to be transplanted within that time,” Anand told IANS. With a week’s time, the number of organs available for transplantation would increase and the lives of many patients suffering from liver disease or cancer could be saved, he added.
According to the study, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, with the new perfusion technology, the livers, and even the injured, can stay alive outside the human body for a week.
“The success of this unique perfusion system, developed by a group of surgeons, biologists and engineers, will pave the way for new applications in transplants and cancer medicine, helping patients without available liver grafts,” said the study researcher. Pierre-Alain Clavi of the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland.
It is a breakthrough in transplant medicine. Injured cadaveric livers, initially not suitable for transplantation, can regain full function while they are perfused in the new machine for several days.
According to the researchers, the basis of this technology is a complex perfusion system, which mimics most of the central bodily functions near physiology.
The Liver4Life project was developed under the umbrella of the Wyss Institute in Zurich, which brought together highly specialized technical and biomedical knowledge from experts at the University Hospital of Zurich.
According to the study, six of the ten perfused low quality human livers, rejected for transplantation in Europe, recovered to full function within a week of infusion into the machine.
The next step will be to use these organs for transplantation. The technology opens a path for applications that offer a new life for many patients with liver disease or end-stage cancer.
“The biggest challenge in the initial phase of our project was to find a common language that allowed communication between doctors and engineers,” said researcher Philipp Rudolf von Rohr.