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  • When talking about clinical organ transplantation, the inadequate supply of organs is undoubtedly one of the key factors limiting the scope of this gripping medical advancement. However, the limited shelf life of donated organs before transplant is also a key issue that hampers the usefulness of donated organs in case of absence of a proper receiver. The possibility of transplanting donated organs for patients some time ahead of the donation could largely increase the number of organ transplants. A new nanotechnology method to safely bring back frozen organs to life could just be the right answer to the aforementioned concern.

    Scientists, including from the University of Minnesota, have devised a way to thaw frozen tissues without damaging the cells within them with the help of nanoparticles. The researchers have manufactured silica-coated nanoparticles containing iron oxide. In a study, when scientists applied a magnetic field to the nanoparticle suffused frozen tissues, the nanoparticles were able to generate rapid and uniform heat.

    With the heat, the tissue samples warmed up with this method about 10 to 100 times faster than methods earlier used. Researchers have clinically tested this method on frozen sections of pig arteries, parts of pig heart valves, and human skin cells. The rewarmed tissues did not display signs of damage from the heating process and it was also observed that physical properties of the cells, such as elasticity, were preserved. Researchers were able to properly wash the nanoparticles away from the samples after warming.

    Previous research in the similar direction allowed scientists to successfully thaw very small biological samples, of sizes from only one to three millilitres in terms of volume. The new technique, however, allows use with samples of upto 50 milliliters. Scientists say that there is a strong possibility that the technique can be scaled up further, to also make it work with larger systems such as organs.


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