In The News - Volume 1 - Issue 15 - October 23, 2015

Ex-vivo Lung Perfusion Technology Opens New Possibilities In One Of The Most Problematic Areas Of Lung Transplant Surgery
Exciting new research, partly funded by the U.K. Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Robert Luff Foundation and announced at the Trust’s U.K. CF Conference last week, shows promising results in reconditioning poorly functioning donor lungs and reducing acute organ rejection in a trial on pigs, the Trust reports. A team of researchers from the University of Manchester collaborated with colleagues from Lund University in Sweden, to investigate a technique called ex-vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) that keeps lungs breathing outside of the body and supports them with a supply of blood-substitutes and nutrients, removing the donor’s white blood cells from the organs.

Low Magnesium After Kidney Transplant Hikes Risk for New-Onset Diabetes
Low serum magnesium levels following kidney transplantation is an independent risk factor for new-onset diabetes after transplantation, according to a new study. In a retrospective cohort study of 948 kidney transplant recipients without diabetes, a team led by S. Joseph Kim, MD, of the University of Toronto, found that each 0.1-mmol/L decrease in serum magnesium after transplantation was associated with a significant 24% increased risk for new-onset diabetes after transplantation, after adjusting for recipient age, sex, race, body mass index, cause of end-stage renal disease, time on dialysis, and other potential confounders.

Researchers link organ transplant drug to rise in rare lymphoma
MMF and CNIs are given to transplant patients to lower the body’s natural immunity and to prevent the new organ from being rejected. “MMF remains one of the best current medications for immunosuppression that we have,” says Amy Duffield, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, “but a better understanding of its association with CNS lymphoproliferative disease will be crucial to further improving patients’ transplant regimes based on all of the risks these patients face.”

LVH Regression Improves Outcomes in Renal Transplant Recipients
Regression of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) in renal transplant recipients predicts a better long-term clinical outcome, researchers found. In a prospective study, Ernesto Paoletti, MD, University of Genoa, IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San Martino-IST, Genoa, Italy, and colleagues compared with 60 renal transplant recipients who experienced LVH regression and 40 recipients whose LVH remained unchanged or worsened. Subjects were participants in 2 randomized controlled trials aimed at evaluating the effect of active intervention on post-transplant LVH. The investigators evaluated the effect of LVH regression on a composite outcome of death and any cardiovascular (CV) or renal event.

Unusual Parasite from Organ Donor Sickens 3 People
Three people who received organ transplants from the same donor all developed serious brain problems shortly after their operations. The mysterious symptoms turned out to be due to a little-understood parasite that infected the donor before she died, according to a new report of the case. The donor was a 43-year-old woman who died from a stroke, and her kidneys, heart and liver were all transplanted into patients in February 2014. But two months later, a man who received a kidney from the woman developed a fever, and showed changes in behavior, suggesting a brain problem.

Converting skin cells to stem cells creates ‘kidney structures’
New technique offers model for studying disease, progress toward cell therapy. Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) principal faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have established a highly efficient method for making kidney structures from stem cells derived from skin taken from patients. The kidney structures formed could be used to study abnormalities of kidney development, chronic kidney disease, and the effects of toxic drugs, and could be incorporated into bioengineered devices to treat patients with acute and chronic kidney injury. In the longer term, these methods could hasten progress toward replacing a damaged or diseased kidney with tissue derived from a patient’s own cells. The work was published in Nature Biotechnology.

Editing of Pig DNA May Lead to More Organs for People
This month, scientists gathered at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington to talk about Crispr, a new method for editing genes. In the past couple of years, the technique has become so powerful and accessible that many experts are calling for limits on its potential uses — especially altering human embryos with changes that could be inherited by future generations. Among the scientists describing recent advances was one of Crispr’s pioneers, George Church of Harvard Medical School. In the midst of his presentation, packed with the fine details of biochemistry and genetics, Dr. Church dropped a bombshell. In a typical experiment, scientists use Crispr to alter a single gene. But in recent work with pig cells, Dr. Church and his colleagues used Crispr to alter 62 genes at once. The researchers hope that this achievement may someday make it possible to use pig organs for transplantation into humans.

A life-saving breakthrough; Andover company develops modern organ transplant system

TransMedics, which has been in Andover since 2004, develops and manufactures the first-in-class technologies for transplants. The company is a pioneer in a new field of medicine called ex-vivo warm blood perfusion for transplantation. Called the Organ Care System, the device, more commonly referred to as the "heart in a box," is the only technology known to be capable of maintaining a functioning human organ and keeping it alive, beating, breathing and making bile and urine outside of the human body.