Recent advances in medical science have made it possible to keep liver alive after it is being removed from the human body. Development of a new machine specified to serve this purpose can keep liver alive for almost seven days.
A human organ can be kept alive for just a few hours using the recently available technologies. However, recent breakthroughs leading to the development of this novel technology allows the research team to extend this period up to seven days.
The liver is one of the five body organs of the body that are needed for survival. It is a reddish-brown organ, consisting of two lobes and present above the stomach just below the diaphragm.
Among its major functions, a few are the synthesis of important blood proteins, metabolism of drugs, detoxification of chemicals, and filtration of blood coming from the GI system. In patients who have liver cancer or liver failure, a liver transplant is the only option left to increase their chances of survival.
The findings of a recent study presented in the journal “Nature Biotechnology” has shown that this new machine is capable of increasing the number of livers for transplantation. Thus, acting as a savior for patients who suffer from severe liver illnesses such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Moreover, another interesting role of this device is its capability to restore the function of injured livers to make them suitable for transplantation. Placement of such livers in the machine can cause them to regain their complete function within a few days.
The device imitates different functions of the body, such as controlling blood sugar levels, oxygen distribution, and elimination of waste products. All these roles of the machine are based upon perfusion mechanism – that is the movement of fluid from the blood circulation to a tissue or organ.
The injured livers are never accepted for transplantation purpose as they are unable to perform their complete function. For the study, the research team placed ten poor-quality livers in the perfusion machine.
On observation, the team found that complete function was restored in 60 percent of these livers after placing them in the machine for a week.
A group of engineers, surgeons, and biologists have worked together for more than four years to make this unique perfusion system successful. This system facilitates health professionals in treating patients that don’t have any liver grafts available to restore liver function.
According to the research team, this new device provides professionals with the opportunity to heal damaged livers. For instance, this device makes medical staff capable of clearing fat depots in the liver and heal or regenerate the damaged parts of the liver.
The struggle of the researchers from ETH Zurich, University of Zurich, Wyss Zurich, and University Hospital Zurich has resulted in such a breakthrough in medical science. Philipp Rudolf von Rohr is working as a Professor of Process Engineering in ETH Zurich, Switzerland and is the study co-author.
In one of his statements, he stated that looking for a language that permits communication between engineers and clinicians was the major challenge faced during the initial phase of their study. The use of the healed livers in real transplantations is the next stage after the development of this unique perfusion system.