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'Nanowarming' could revive frozen organs

Press Association logoPress Association 2/03/2017 Ryan Wilkinson

Nanotechnology could help overcome a major hurdle in the storage of donor organs, according to US research.

Scientists say they have found a way to re-warm blood vessels and heart valves that have been cryogenically frozen, without causing damage to the tissue.

If the discovery can be scaled up it would provide a major advance in the preservation of donor hearts and lungs, up to two-thirds of which have to be discarded due to the limitations of current technology.

According to some estimates, eliminating this waste could bring an end to waiting lists for these organs within two years.

A team at the University of Minnesota tested its method on samples that had been treated with silica-coated iron nanoparticles and vitrified at minus 160C - preserving them in a glass-like state.

Radio waves were then used to excite the nanoparticles, enabling the tissue to be defrosted evenly without causing it to crack.

Publishing their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers dubbed the technique "nanowarming" and said it may provide a "notable contribution to regenerative medicine".

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