Scientists Validate Effective Rehabilitation and Recovery of Human Donor Lungs Previously Considered Unsuitable for Transplantation

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The study shows that a new technique for regenerating donor lung tissue can increase the number organs available for lifesaving transplantation.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, a novel method of supporting and recovering donor lung outside the body has the potential to increase organs available for donation.

Organ shortages are becoming more and more dire as thousands of people die each year while waiting for organ donors. Nearly 80% of donated lung tissue is too damaged to be transplanted, and this is often because the damage can be reversed. Rehab and recovery of unutilized organs is a promising way to reduce the organ shortage.

The xenogeneic (cross-circulation) technique was developed by a cross-disciplinary team of surgeons, bioengineers, and scientists from Vanderbilt University and Stanford University. They also collaborated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital and State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. This involves temporarily attaching a donor human lung to a pig’s live organ to support and resuscitate it outside the body.

The study validated and established a standard technique for performing cross-circulation of xenogeneic donor lungs. The study, “Technique for cross-circulation of human donor lungs in ex vivo”, is reported by Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation. These results confirm the effectiveness of this technique for rehabilitation of human donor lungs that were initially considered unfit for transplantation.

“Despite significant efforts over many decades, few approaches have been successful in expanding the number of organs that are available for transplant,” Dr. Matthew Bacchetta said, Surgical director of the Vanderbilt Respiratory Institute, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and lead author of this study. “Xenogeneic Cross-circulation is proving a robust method to ex vivo evaluate, and improve donor lungs.”

Dr. John O’Neill is Chief Scientific Officer of Xylyx Bio, and co-author. He said that the technique gives donor organs a steady blood supply as well as multisystem physiological regulation – a powerful advantage in the field. “We are excited about the potential for this technique to increase the clinical utilization of organ donors and enable more lifesaving transplants for those in need,” said Dr. John O’Neill, Chief Scientific Officer at Xylyx Bio and co-author of the study.

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