A Swiss collaboration of clinical researchers from University Hospital Zurich, ETH Zurich, Wyss Zurich, and the University of Zurich has created a machine that can keep human livers alive for up to a week. For comparison, current methods of perfusion can keep livers going for about 24 hours.
Moreover, the same device can be used to rehabilitate injured livers so that they’re healthy enough to be used for transplants. The multi-parameter device is described in journal Nature Biotechnology, where the researchers detail how the device, a goal of the Liver4Life project of Wyss Zurich, can manage a liver outside a human body by regulating its oxygenation, glucose levels, hematocrit control, and management of waste byproducts.
The technology will surely make liver transplants more common by reducing the number of livers that are wasted because of time considerations and by being inappropriate for implantation.
The researchers were able to keep pig livers alive, so they expect the same results for human livers, and they were able to get a hold of 10 livers that were declined by European transplantation centers and were able to revive six of those to a state that would make them ready for implantation.
From the study abstract:
We developed the machine in a stepwise fashion using pig livers. Study of multiple ex vivo parameters and early phase reperfusion in vivo demonstrated the viability of pig livers perfused for 1 week without the need for additional blood products or perfusate exchange. After a 7-d perfusion, six of the [injured] human livers showed preserved function as indicated by bile production, synthesis of coagulation factors, maintained cellular energy (ATP) and intact liver structure.
Study in Nature Biotechnology: An integrated perfusion machine preserves injured human livers for 1 week
Via: University of Zurich