Preservation of pig organs for transplantation using a novel solution

Organ transplantation replaces diseased organs with healthy functioning ones.

Once out of the body, organs deteriorate rapidly so are flushed with specialised solutions to keep them in good condition until transplanted. A solution has been developed (LS-A) which has shown better results in rats than the solution currently most commonly used (UW). Replacing pigs with rats and cell lines in earlier work, we have reduced the number of pigs needed prior to human trials.

Plan of work

Anaesthetised pigs will have their kidneys and liver flushed with cold preservation solution, (LS-A or UW). The pigs die at the end of the experiment, but as they are asleep, they will not feel anything. Blood will also be collected for future use.

Organs will be removed and stored in cold preservation solution for various lengths of time, to test the time an organ can be safely stored prior to transplantation. The organs will either be:
A) stored just on ice and cold solution, or 
B) following A, connected to a machine which pumps cold solution continually through the organs – Hypothermic Oxygenated Machine Perfusion (HOPE). 
Both methods will be tested with both solutions.

After predetermined lengths of time, the organs will be connected to a circuit which pumps blood, collected earlier, through the organs for up to two hours, to mimic transplantation. Blood, bile and urine will be collected and tested at intervals to assess how the kidneys and liver are working. Tissue samples will be analysed.

Animal welfare and the 3Rs

Replacement

Replacing pigs with rats and cell lines in earlier work has enabled us to reduce the number of pigs required prior to human trials.

Reduction

Each animal will have a minimum of both kidneys and liver removed. Later in the research, other organs may also be preserved and each time a pig is to be used, other researchers will be informed so that as much use as possible will be made of each animal.

Refinement

Pigs are social animals and therefore will only be moved to the University 24 hours prior to the procedure. They will be sedated before being anaesthetised to ensure that as little stress as possible is caused to animals. 

Implications
This work should improve the condition of organs for transplantation, enabling more successful organ transplants and the saving of many lives.

Non-technical summary 

Read preservation of pig organs for transplantation using a novel solution non-technical summary (PDF).

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