Scientists have developed a way to rejuvenate donor organs

Specialists from Harvard Medical School have developed a method that will save lives for people in need of organ transplantation. It is about using the organs of deceased elderly people as a temporary measure to wait for their turn for transplantation. The issue is that donor organs of elderly people are rejected much more often than organs of young people: age-related changes provoke the recipient's immune system aggression. Scientists have developed a rejuvenation method of donor organs from elderly people, so consequently the immune system is more tolerant, and the patient has time to wait for a full donor organ.

Experts believe that the organs of elderly gone people are a huge resource that can help patients whose own organs are failing to wait for their turn for transplantation. The problem is that the organs of elderly people contain so-called senescent cells. These cells have almost lost their function, but they do not die to empty place for young cells, but still exist, provoking inflammation and dangerous mutations. Senescent cells have been found to be the source of mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA), which significantly increases the probability of rejection. 

As of today, there is a group of drugs called senolytics: they allow "return" aging cells to the normal life cycle and promote tissue renewal and rejuvenation. The method proposed by scientists from Harvard Medical School is that the senolytics can be used not only for living people but to cleanse the donor organs from senescent cells as well. 

Experiments on mice have shown that the survival rate of old organs treated with senolytics was comparable to organs from young donors. Today, the first steps are being taken to test a new approach to rejuvenating donor organs in humans. Thus, it has already been proven that the senolytics has reduced the concentration of mt-DNA in the human donor organ. 

- The obtained data serve as a sufficient basis for the use of senolytics to optimize the donor organs from elderly people issues, - one of the authors of the paper, Dr. Stefan G. Tullius, comments on the situation. - The aim of our work is to help reduce the gap between the availability of organs and the needs of many patients who are currently on the waiting list for transplantation. 

Aug. 28, 2020, 10:34 a.m.

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