Quirks & Quarks

Bringing cryopreserved tissue back to life

The goal of new 'nano-warming' technology is to make more organs and tissue available for transplant.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota have devised a "nano-warming" technology that might eventually overcome the challenge of preserving organs and tissue for extended periods of time. (Patrick J. Lynch)

We hear about organ donation and successful transplants all the time. But estimates suggest that more than sixty per cent of the hearts and lungs donated for transplantation are thrown away in any given year. 

Morever, if only half of unused organs were successfully transplanted, waiting lists might disappear within two years. 

It's because organs cannot be kept "alive" for longer than four hours. Without a blood supply, cells start to die. So when we see them on ice, it's only a short term storage method. 

Many attempts have been made to freeze organs and tissue for longer periods, but doctors haven't yet figured out a way to re-warm frozen organs without damaging the tissue.

Dr. John Bischof and a team from the University of Minnesota have devised a "nano-warming" technology that might eventually overcome that challenge. Their findings were recently published in Science: Improved tissue cryopreservation using inductive heating of magnetic nanoparticles

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