January 2018
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A special thanks to this month's contributors: Dr. Peter Kilbride, Dr. Krishnaa Mahbubani, Dr. Bradley Weegman, Dr. Eugene Sato, and Dr. Kate Franz

Edited by Dr. Alyssa Ward and Jedd Lewis

Email alyssa.ward@organpreservationalliance.org with news, comments, or questions about the Briefings.

Click here to see all of the past Biopreservation Briefings!


Join us for a Mini-organ banking summit

OPA is proud to announce that we will be hosting multiple sessions at the Society for Cryobiology's annual meeting in Madrid, Spain (July 10-13). In the tradition of the Organ Banking Summits, we hope to make this a recurring workshop series that will bring together end users of cryopreservation technology with the researchers moving the field forward to discuss research needs and commercialization opportunities. The first year’s theme will be Unmet Needs for Cryopreservation in Research and Drug Discovery.This “mini-Organ Banking Summit” will be going on the conference website soon. In the mean time, click here to sign up for CRYO2018 while the early registration discount is still available!


The potential of nanotechnology to transform organ transplantation

The Alliance of Advanced Biomedical Engineering (AABME), a branch of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) published our whitepaper on the innovative ways that nanotechnology can be harnessed for transplantation. Readers submitted their questions and the answers should be coming out soon! A big thank you to Drs. John Bischof, Greg Fahy, Gloria Elliott, Peter Kilbride and Boris Schmalz for providing guidance to the OPA team on this effort.


A look back at 2017 from Organ Preservation Alliance CEO, Jedd Lewis


Thanks to you, 2017 was a landmark year for the Organ Preservation Alliance, the goal of organ banking, and the field of preservation as a whole. Click here for a recap of this year’s tremendous progress from our CEO, Jedd Lewis.


Selected Publications

Jump to: OPA updates, News from our network, or Funding opportunities

Recent papers that caught the eye of our multi-institute Organ Banking Journal Club. If you're interested in joining, contact alyssa.ward@organpreservationalliance.org to learn more!


The clock starts now: Increased donor surgical time impairs graft survival

When many of us think about organ preservation advances, we think about significant updates to the storage and transport of the organ after it is removed from the donor. However, Jochmans et al. looked at the effect of donor hepatectomy (surgical removal of the liver) time on transplant outcomes. Through analysis of almost 13 thousand liver transplants from the Eurotransplant Registry performed over the course of a decade they found that longer donor hepatectomy time was associated with graft loss. While the overall median hepatectomy time was 41 minutes, each 10 min of additional hepatectomy time was associated with similar decreases in graft survival as 1 hour on ice. Maximizing graft survival not only generally increases patient survival, but also increases patient access by reducing the need for second and third transplants.

These results underscore the importance of beginning organ preservation protocols as soon as possible - even during the donor surgery - to minimize damage and improve patient outcomes. To that end, continued advances in preservation technologies could limit, or even reverse damage during procurement. For example, progress in perfusion technologies recently enabled the first ischemia-free human transplant (He et al, 2017), which may offer seamless integration with long-term storage capabilities, as they mature, such that organs can be cryopreserved essentially as they existed in the body.  - Dr. Alyssa Ward

Jochmans, I., et al. The Impact of Hepatectomy Time of the Liver Graft on Post-Transplant Outcome. Annals of Surgery. 2017 Nov. DOI: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002593


Preserving structures in delicate cell types

This engaging paper by Day et al. explored innovative ways to cryopreserve Schwann cells (a type of glial cell crucial to the peripheral nervous system (PNS)) without damaging their structure – this was looked at in the context of using these cells to repair nerve damage in patients through transplant of these cells.

There have been relatively few studies looking at the cryopreservation of brain cells or tissues where cell integrity is maintained – typically when preserving neural tissues structure is preserved at the expense of cell viability. Schwann cells were encapsulated in alginate tubes, which formed long strings aligned with the cells during culture post encapsulation – strings were tethered to the bottom of a culture flask, with one end floating in the culture medium. A set of these were then stored under hypothermic conditions, while another set cryopreserved using a slow cooling method. Hypothermic storage was found to be optimal for 3 days storage, however cryopreservation is required for longer durations.

It was found that using this method, ice did not substantially damage the encapsulated cells, which demonstrates that the delicate nature of Schwann cells can be preserved. Looking ahead, scaling up from individual cells to brain tissue remains a large outstanding problem to be addressed. The work by Day et al. will help treatments such as nerve grafting, and may begin a move to more accurate brain cryopreservation which would have huge benefits in the research of diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  - Dr. Peter Kilbride

Day, Adam GE, et al. The Effect of Hypothermic and Cryogenic Preservation on Engineered Neural Tissue. Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods. 2017 Oct 1; 23(10): 575-582. DOI:  10.1089/ten.tec.2017.0244


Thriving thymuses through tissue banking

Infants born without a thymus lack functional T-cells, a critical part of the immune system. While this is a rare condition, it is can be fatal in the absence of an immediate thymus transplant. Time constraints often lead to poor matching between donors and recipients. The inability to bank transplant thymuses for transplantation off-the-shelf could overcome this challenge but, there is still insufficient evidence that thawed, previously cryopreserved organs are as functional and safe as transplanted fresh thymuses.

A recent study in the European Journal of Immunology investigated whether cryopreserved thymic tissue developed T-cell subsets as efficiently as transplants from fresh tissue. The authors transplanted either thawed or fresh tissue in an athymic mouse model, and encouragingly, both cryopreserved and fresh thymus were equally effective at reconstituting  T cell populations. Further studies will be necessary to demonstrate that the T-cells generated by cryopreserved thymic tissue retain full functionality and that the tissue is safe for transplant in human subjects.  - Dr. Kate Franz

Ross, Susan, et al. "Transplanted human thymus slices induce and support T-cell development in mice after cryopreservation." European Journal of Immunology. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1002/eji.201747193


News from our network

Jump to: OPA updatesSelected publications, or Funding opportunities

Help keep the community updated by sending your news to alyssa.ward@organpreservationalliance.org

  • Congrats to Nicole Evans, the new Executive Director of the Society for Cryobiology (SfC)

  • Also congrats to Dr. Dayong Gao, the new President of SfC!

  • There was a record number of organ donors and donations in 2017, that’s a more than 20% increase since 2012. Congrats to the transplant community for saving lives!

  • OPA Advisor publications and patents:

    • Dr. Gerald Brandacher was recently granted a patent for a novel hydrogel.

    • Drs. Gregory Fahy and Yoed Rabin recently published thermal analyses that suggest scaling current rabbit kidney protocols to human kidneys should be possible.

    • Drs. Adam Higgins and Kelvin Brockbank followed the rates of diffusion for vitrification solution components in this recent paper.

    • It was a big month for Dr. Adam Higgins, as he also published this analysis of cryopreservation solutions' glass transition temperatures!


Funding opportunities

Jump to: OPA updatesSelected publications, or News from our network

The Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) BioFabUSA has opened their Winter 2018 Project Call! ARMI BioFabUSA, which was recently announced at the White House Organ Summit, is a $300M institute dedicated to fostering private-public partnerships that catalyze large-scale manufacture of engineered tissues and related products.

The scope of proposed projects should fall under one of the five strategic priorities, one of which is tissue preservation and transport. Projects should be written with the goal of commercialization of a product or platform that solves a legitimate industry need. Proposed projects should be at a technology readiness level (TRL) of at least 4 and ready for further development.

You do not need to be a member of the institute to apply (you can join if and when your project is funded). While the principal investigator applying needs to be from an US institution, but we’ve been told by institute leaders that there will be no restrictions on international subcontractors.


Some cost-sharing by an outside organization is required; if you have a promising proposal but no matching funder, consider contacting OPA to see if we can help.

The Intent to Submit is due February 13, 2018. More information and application materials can be found at:




Would you like to be involved with Biopreservation Briefings? Want to make sure we include your news? E-mail alyssa.ward@organpreservationalliance.org with questions, ideas, and updates!