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Frog boosts liver transplant hopes


2 October, 2008  

The supply of transplant livers may be boosted by a hibernating technique used by frogs, it was has been reported.

The formation of damaging ice crystals has been prevented by Israeli scientists who have pioneered a process that freezes the organ very slowly.

A similar slow-cooling technique has been found to be used by a species of frog that allows parts of their bodies to freeze during hibernation.

The scientists have tested the system by successfully freezing, thawing and transplanting a pig’s liver. If human livers survive the process, more of the organs would be made available to patients.

Dr Amir Arav, who developed the new freezing method at the Israeli Agricultural Research Organisation in Bet-Dagan, told New Scientist magazine: “We didn’t invent this process, nature did.”

But Dr David Winter, president of Human BioSystems, California, that is looking at organ freezing, said it would have been better if the transplant liver had been tested on its own.

“One pig liver in a piggyback transplant is not very convincing as there’s no evidence the thawed liver can really support the animal,” he said.

Copyright PA Business 2008

New Scientist