New York, March 7 (IANS) Lungs tend to quickly lose their function outside the body. But this may soon change as researchers have found a method that could help maintain a fully functional lung outside the body for up to a week or even longer.
Lengthening the time to keep lungs functional outside the body could boost transplantation as a vast majority of donor lungs get rejected during transplantation due to delay in transport. It could also allow doctors to repair damaged donor lungs and make them suitable for transplant.
The research team found that "cross circulation" -- an abandoned surgical procedure used in the 1960s to exchange blood flow between two patients -- could enable long-term support of living organs outside the body by providing critical systemic and metabolic factors that are missing from all current technologies.
Taking a cue from this procedure, the researchers developed a new technology to support fully functional lung outside the body for several days, according to a study published online in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.
"Our cross-circulation platform will likely allow us to extend the duration of support to a week or longer if needed, potentially enabling the recovery of severely damaged organs," said one of the lead researchers John O'Neill from Columbia University Medical Centre in the US.
"Beyond prolonging support time, we also demonstrated several therapeutic interventions that vastly improve and accelerate recovery," O'Neill noted.
The researchers said that their new platform could be readily extended to recover other organs that are in high demand for transplant or in need of repair, including livers and kidneys, and they have already begun studies in these directions.