Lung “Filtering” Technique May Reduce Transplant Rejection

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At the University of Manchester, researchers have partnered with the University of Lund in Sweden and tested the use of ex-vivo lung perfusion to recondition poorly functioning lungs and remove donor white blood cells in the hopes to reduce the risk of rejection and thereby increasing the number of lungs available for transplant.

Donor white blood cells can be harmful to the recipient and can cause acute rejection of the transplanted organ. Ex-vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) allows for the lungs to be kept “alive” outside of the body, through keeping them breathing and supported by a supply of blood and nutrients.

The research team took lungs from pigs and transplanted them either by using the normal method or after three hours of EVLP. The recipients were monitored for 24 hours. In the cases where EVLP was utilized, little evidence of rejection was observed, however, in the normal transplant method, all the lungs showed signs of severe rejection. While EVLP is becoming an established technique, this was the first time, it has been used in this way. As the lungs were only monitored for 24 hours, it is difficult to know the long-term effects, but any delay in rejection would beneficial to the patient.  The researchers are hopeful that EVLP will be used in patients to reduce high rates of rejection and wastage of scarce donor lungs.


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