Leaders in Science and Medicine Call to ​Control Biological Time and Transform Transplantation

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Preservation capabilities is identified as one of the key challenges facing biomedicine today affecting millions of people each year worldwide by constraining the ability to treat patients for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, liver failure, and other leading causes of death. Implications for global health, the success of scientific research and drug discovery, healthcare expenditures, and national defense are profound.

In the US, for every 1 patient on the heart transplant wait list who does not receive an organ in time, 10 hearts from organ donors go unused despite the amazing work by organ procurement organizations. Short heart preservation windows (only 3-5 hours) are a major driver of this phenomenon. Said Chief of Transplantation, MGH and Harvard Professor, James Markmann, "Organ preservation is a field ripe for game-changing innovation, with entirely new possibilities for organ transplantation opened up by cryopreserving organs."

Authors include Nobel Prize and Breakthrough Prize winners, leaders of transplant societies, pioneers of tissue engineering, xenotransplantation, and other fields, and scientists and/or heads of transplantation from Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, etc. Many of these leaders will gather at the upcoming global Organ Banking Summit at Harvard Medical School. "This is the kickoff for a modern day 'Apollo Program in Organ Banking'. Like going to moon was audacious, but something we knew we could accomplish, so is solving organ cryobanking," said co lead author and chairman of the Organ Preservation Alliance, Dr. Sebastian Giwa.

As announced by the Obama White House, in partnership with the Organ Preservation Alliance, the American Society of Transplantation (AST) just launched a new branch. "Organ preservation is a field long overdue for large-scale, focused attention from the surrounding scientific and medical communities. For organ cryopreservation in particular, implications for global health are enormous," said coauthor, past president of AST and Harvard Professor, Anil Chandraker.

Examples of the scientific renaissance are developments in nanotechnology-based cryo-warming (March 2017); and cryobanking and transplantation of whole animal limbs (April 2017).

Momentum also includes government support spanning a NSF-funded technology roadmap and White House roundtable to a DARPA workshop and the DoD launching 6 funding pipelines (see Scientific American, The Economist).


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