A new type of gene therapy for injured lungs that were previously rejected for transplantation may increase the number of lungs available for transplant, researchers say.
Successful transplants require healthy lungs, but more than 80 percent of donor lungs are highly inflamed and only mildly functional, which means many of them are rejected by surgeons, according to researchers with the University Health Network in Toronto.
The investigators found that infusion with the regulatory gene IL-10 before transplant can heal damaged donor lungs. This procedure involves placing the lungs in a glass chamber outside the body and keeping them breathing using a perfusion system that continuously pumps a solution of oxygen, proteins and nutrients into the lungs.
The study, published in the Oct. 28 issue of Science Translational Medicine, noted that the current method of preserving donor organs is to keep them on ice. But the new lung perfusion system would enable the lung’s cellular machinery to keep working by maintaining the lungs at a normal body temperature, the study authors explained in a news release from the journal’s publisher.