Technology developed and being commercialized by University of Alberta medical researchers may solve two of the biggest issues in organ transplantation—the number of healthy organs available and the limited window of time to get a donated organ to a patient.
Surgery professors Darren Freed and Jayan Nagendran developed a device that uses negative pressure ventilation to replicate the way our chest cavity expands and contracts with each breath, to ventilate donated lungs.
The researchers inserted this technology into an ex-vivo (“out of the living”) organ perfusion device, which constantly supplies the lungs with blood and oxygen, and keeps them warm, similar to the conditions inside the body.
Freed, an associate professor in the Department of Surgery and director of research for the Alberta Transplant Institute, says the negative pressure model has been shown to reduce injuries to the lungs and improves the ability to repair damage. It may also lead to an increase in the number and quality of organs available for transplant.
The two researchers—who founded Tevosol Inc, a UAlberta spinoff company to commercialize their product—expect to start a clinical trial of their lung perfusion device soon.
Currently, organs are stored on ice while being transported, which often results in organ damage. The only thing physicians can do to minimize the risk of damage is reduce the time between when the organ is harvested and transplanted.
The device also allows time for organs to be assessed and repaired, which increases the number of viable organs available.