March 2018
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A special thanks to this month's contributors: Professor Gloria Elliott, Dr. Peter Kilbride, Dr. Krishnaa Mahbubani, Dr. Bradley Weegman, Dr. Alireza Abazari, and Dr. Kate Franz

Edited by Dr. Alyssa Ward

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ex vivo perfusion Roundtable session at this year's american transplant congress

The American Society of Transplantation's Organ and Tissue Preservation Community of Practice will be hosting a roundtable at the American Transplant Congress in Seattle this summer. This discussion will focus on the progress and promise of ex vivo organ perfusion. Please contact for more information.

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 to learn more!


Beating the ischemia reperfusion injury blues


The blue pigment phycocyanin, derived from a microalgae species, has previously exhibited anti-inflammatory (Romay et al, 1998) and hepatoprotective properties (Vadiraja et al, 1998) that led Gdara et al, 2018 to hypothesize it could protect donor livers from the injury sustained during organ procurement.

To test this, rat livers were stored on ice in the presence or absence of the compound and assessed by perfusion. The authors found a concentration that prevented cold storage-induced liver enzyme elevation. Combined with other molecular evidence, the authors conclude that phycocyanin is an effective additive to protect the organ from ischemia reperfusion injury.

This study represents a promising foundation for further work – extending these findings to an animal transplant model and elucidating the mechanism of action.  - Dr. Alyssa Ward


Cryopreservation of Cell-Laden Printed Scaffolds?

While 3D bioprinting stands to accelerate tissue engineering, the inability to preserve bioprinted cell-laden scaffolds limits on-demand, “off-the-shelf” products for clinical use (in addition to imposing transportation barriers). Cryopreserved bioprinted scaffolds have low cell viability upon thaw and while this can be avoided by adding cryoprotective agents (CPAs) to the bioink, CPAs lower the viscosity of the bioink and can prevent fabrication of scaffolds.

In a recent paper (Lee et al., 2018), researchers developed a cell-laden bioprinted scaffold capable of being cryopreserved and maintaining high cell viability (>90%) post-thaw. As predicted, the addition of the CPA DMSO altered the viscosity of the bioink and prevented printing of a stable scaffold. However, this was overcome by an innovative approach utilizing a microfluidic channel, core/shell nozzle and low-temperature working stage. The final scaffold consisted of a “core” of low viscosity bioink containing cells, DMSO, and collagen encapsulated by a hard “shell” of alginate.

Importantly, the cells maintained functionality and viability after cryopreservation and were not significantly distinguishable from a fresh scaffold lacking DMSO, demonstrating that cryopreservation of scaffolds is possible, at least from some cell types.  - Dr. Kate Franz


Squirreling away

The current standard preservation of donor hearts for transplantation, static cold storage, delays the injuries sustained by the organ as oxygen and energy are depleted. The damage, however, still contributes to nearly 70% of all donor hearts in the U.S. going untransplanted (Colvin et al, 2017). Novel strategies are needed to optimize the use of these lifesaving grafts.

Stancic et al analyzed molecular changes in ground squirrels that were exposed to cold to examine natural mechanisms mammalian hearts use to adapt to cold (Stancic et al, 2018). The expression of key proteins in energy metabolism changed over time, consistent with a change in the molecules used to fuel the organ. Interestingly, these changes were a consistent adaptation to cold independent of whether the animal hibernated.

In addition to the changes to metabolic pathways, the authors recorded a distinct changes in antioxidant pathways. Taken together, these data suggest pathways that can be explored to induce cold-tolerance in donor organs.  - Dr. Alyssa Ward

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  • Dr. Kenneth Storey explored the molecular signatures of hibernating mammals (discussed above) and analyzed the mitochondrial DNA sequence of frog species
  • Dr. David Sachs reported increased longevity in a xenotransplantation model
  • Dr. Gerald Brandacher's paper made strides in desensitization to vascular composite allotransplantation
  • Dr. Kelvin Brockbank analyzed the effect of heat on porcine heart valves and  performed a large animal trial of xenogeneic heart valves
  • Dr. John Bischof reported a novel method to attract and kill metastatic cancer cells
  • Dr. John Morris worked to optimize the vitrification of ovarian tissue
  • Dr. Martin Mangino utilized a rat DCD heart model to optimize recovery from warm ischemia
  • Dr. Ido Braslavsky's work solved the crystal structure of an ice binding protein that features more ice binding sites than other members of the protein family
  • Dr. Allison Hubel published a new book, Preservation of Cells: A Practical Manual

We are accepting proposals for organ banking research centers

As announced last month, OPA is raising $5-10 million in unrestricted funding to seed one or more research centers dedicated to organ and tissue cryopreservation. To kick off this effort, we're committing $1 million in matching funds, made possible by the generosity of the Pineapple Fund ( 

To learn more and to submit an informal proposal to establish a research center at your institution, click here or email 

A couple groups have requested more time, so we are accepting proposals and inquiries until the end of next week.


DARPA is requesting research proposals to reversibly slow or stop biologic processes in living cells

You can find more information or apply here:



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