According to a report published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers believe that they have developed a machine that can repair injured livers while keeping them outside of the body for up to one week. Until now, it was only possible to safety store livers outside the body for a few hours at most.
The new technology is a complex system that delivers blood to injured livers. The researchers, from the University of Zurich in Switzerland, claim that this system can help to clean fat deposits from the liver, repair injury, and even regenerate partial livers.
According to researcher Dr. Pierre-Alain Clavien, chair of the Department of Visceral and Transplant Surgery at the University Hospital of Zurich, the system was developed over a four-year period by a dedicated group of engineers, biologists, and surgeons. Dr. Clavien also noted that this unique system “paves the way for many new applications in transplantation and cancer medicine helping patients with no liver grafts available.”
During initial study, six out of ten poor-quality livers that were not eligible for transplantation in centers around Europe became fully functional within one week of time on the machine.
The researchers hope that this technology can eventually increase the number of livers that are available for transplant, in turn saving the lives of patients with severe liver disease who are waiting on a transplant list. Since donors’ injured livers are not viable options for transplant, technology like this could help to restore the livers to their full function after several days.