‘Nano-Warming Technique Rewarms Large-Scale Tissues Preserved at Low Temperatures

Monday, March 6, 2017 - 20:32

A research team at the University of Minnesota, have invented a new technique that can be applied to the “cryopreservation” process and allows frozen organs to be quickly reheated in a way that does not damage them.

Organ banks have long seemed like the stuff of science fiction. While the technology to freeze or vitrify hearts, lungs, kidneys and other bodily tissues has existed for decades, scientists for just as long have struggled to find a way to “warm up” organs for transplant surgeries, among other uses, TCB Mag reports.

The research was published today in Science Translational Medicine, a peer-reviewed research journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS). The University of Minnesota holds two patents related to this discovery.

The university called the research “a major step forward in saving millions of human lives” through the improved preservation and accessibility of organs. “This is the first time that anyone has been able to scale up to a larger biological system and demonstrate successful, fast, and uniform warming hundreds of degrees Celsius per minute of preserved tissue without damaging the tissue,” said University of Minnesota mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering professor John Bischof, the senior author of the study.

In this new study, the researchers addressed this rewarming problem by developing a revolutionary new method using silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles dispersed throughout a cryoprotectant solution that included the tissue. The iron oxide nanoparticles act as tiny heaters around the tissue when they are activated using noninvasive electromagnetic waves to rapidly and uniformly warm tissue at rates of 100 to 200 degrees Celsius per minute, 10 to 100 times faster than previous methods.

Next the team will apply their discovery to rabbit kidneys, and they are working with one of the world’s leading experts on organ vitrification to do so. “We will begin with small animal organs and gradually scale up to large animal and then human organs,” he concluded. “Designing a magnetic RF coil system large enough for major human organs is going to be a critical step for nano-warming of human sized organs.”

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