In a just-published Nature Communications study, researchers from Columbia and Vanderbilt Universities demonstrate that a cross-circulation technique can maintain lungs for 36 hours, giving doctors time to rehabilitate the lungs and test new interventions.
The regenerated lungs also met transplantation criteria, unlike the current methods that give doctors about six hours to assess lungs and not enough time to rehabilitate them. Approximately 80% of donor lungs are too damaged for transplantation purposes.
According to the researchers, their work “has opened up new pathways for translational applications and basic science exploration.” In time, the new technique could also prove beneficial for injured hearts, kidneys, and livers.
The researchers’ method of regenerating lungs in animal models showed significantly improved lung function and cellular regeneration. Also, it gave researchers time to develop diagnostic tools for non-invasive evaluation and repair of the lungs.
Eventually, the researchers anticipate expanding the 36-hour period for working on organs to days or even weeks. In addition to rehabilitating organs, the extra time would enable the exploration of new repair techniques.
Further study is required to determine how well the rehabilitated lungs function, the method’s safety, and how immunosuppressive drugs given after transplantation affect the lungs.
Source: MedicalXpress, May 7, 2019