Organ freezing improvement

From: BillK (
Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 08:33:19 MST

Looks like freezing techniques are gradually improving. Alcor might be in
with a chance yet!



Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 19:00 GMT
Organ transplant breakthrough

Embryos successfully conceived from the frozen ovaries.
"We have demonstrated that whole organ transplantation is feasible".
Professor Roger Gosden.

Scientists have successfully frozen whole organs without destroying their
function. The breakthrough raises the possibility that doctors will
eventually be able to keep donor organs in deep freeze until they are needed
for transplant operations. It might also allow women who have to undergo
cancer treatment to store healthy organs, and have children when they would
otherwise have been infertile.

Scientists have previously been able to store and freeze tissue samples. But
until now it has not proved possible to freeze and store whole organs
because the freezing and thawing process does too much damage.

The researchers carried out their research on rats. They removed and stored
the creatures' ovaries in liquid nitrogen, then successfully transplanted
them into rats that were genetically identical. Although the transplanted
ovaries were less efficient after freezing, more than half ovulated normally
and one recipient became pregnant.

Lead researcher Professor Roger Gosden, of the Eastern Virginia Medical
School, US, said that if the technique could one day be applied to humans,
it would offer an option to women and children who would otherwise be
sterilized by chemotherapy. It might also be used to reduce the risk of
premature sterility in women with other medical conditions.

Advances in freezing techniques could also make it possible to store and
successfully transplant other organs. At present, freezing tends to cause
irreparable damage to the blood vessels.

Professor Gosden told BBC News Online: "The take-home message is that we
have demonstrated that whole organ transplantation is feasible. The frozen
ones were not all successful, but that is not surprising because 50 years
after the first successful sperm freezing results are still not perfect."

Professor Gosden said it would be more difficult to freeze human organs
successfully because they were larger. However, the blood vessels, being
larger, would potentially present less problems during surgery.

The research is published in the magazine Nature.

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