Tag Archives: organ

Liver transplant availability improved by rats

iStock_000015700850SmallLiver transplants may soon become available to many more patients, thanks to a slow-cooling method that  was developed in rats. This technique could make over 5,000 extra organs available to patients each year. Currently, a human liver only lasts for about 12 hours, so the pool of transplant recipients is very limited and depends on the patient’s proximity to the donor hospital.

Freezing organs can cause ice crystals, which can damage the cells. This slow-cooling method prevents the formation of ice crystals by introducing a chemical that protects the cells. The liver can then be stored at -6 degrees Celsius before it’s warmed back to body temperature and transplanted. Researchers also believe it’s possible to use this method on larger organs.

Pretty amazing- and this could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of patients! Between this cooling method and other advances aimed at organ preservation during transport, humans could likely begin to see the benefits of this research rather quickly. In this instance, the chemical components of this technique are already approved for use in humans, so after further research in larger animals, human trials won’t be far behind.

http://www.nature.com/news/supercooled-livers-last-for-days-1.15465

Shocking discovery from an electric eel!

eel-228748_640Electric eels are fascinating animals, not only because they look pretty cool, but also because they can generate electricity and deliver shocks of up to 600 volts. But they’re not the only fish that can produce electric fields, and recently, research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison has yielded some surprising information about the evolution of this ability- and what it could mean for other species.

Researchers analyzed the genes of the electric eel as well as other electric fish from unrelated families. It appears that there are a limited number of ways to evolve electric organs, and in at least six different fish, their electric organs evolved in the same way.

So… why should we care? By understanding the way electric organs were created through evolution, scientists may be able to gain the information needed to one day create electric organs in humans or other other animals. The zebrafish, a commonly used research animal, may play a role in attempts at this type of modification. If humans were able to have electric organs, they could possibly serve to power pacemakers, neurostimulators, or other implanted medical devices. Read more about it here:

http://www.npr.org/2014/06/26/325246710/a-shocking-fish-tale-surprises-evolutionary-biologists