Researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, found a way to decontaminate organs destined for transplants thanks to a new method that uses light to kill viruses and bacteria from donors.
According to specialists, biophoton therapy, as is known, must expand the choice of available organs and reduce complications after surgery.
"At present, there is no decontamination of organs for transplantation, only blood draws, but microorganisms are still alive, either organs are removed or, if there is no alternative to avoid death, it is placed contaminated", explain to Efe the group coordinator, Vanderlei Bagnato
The study began in 2015 with the University of Toronto, Canada, which operates the world's largest lung transplant program. Canadians are responsible for the clinical part of the project, while Brazilians are responsible for developing the technique.
Around 1 million dollars are invested and the Brazilian part, which is responsible for 10%, is in the hands of the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (Fapesp).
First of all, this procedure consists of drawing blood from an organ and, through an external tube connected to a blood vessel, this procedure is replaced by a liquid that keeps it alive.
This liquid is exposed to ultraviolet light, which destroys the cell membranes of microorganisms and their DNA.
"Ultraviolet light is applied outside the organ not to kill their own cells, but viruses and bacteria are captured by fluids," said Bagnato.
On the other hand, as a supplement, substances that are sensitive to visible light and infrared, which are capable of selecting viruses and bacteria, are placed in the liquid.
Furthermore, the frequency of this light is applied to organs, which stimulate substances to oxidize microorganisms and cause damage to viruses such as hepatitis and AIDS.
According to scientists, the liquid is used more than once because it is still very expensive, with a value of 1,500 dollars for every liter.
Initial experiments were carried out with pig lungs, then with humans not transplanted and finally they were tested on patients.
For the person in charge of the project in Canada, Marcelo Cypel, the results are optimal.
"We have done ten tests with patients, of which two viruses were removed and in eight they were significantly reduced", evaluated by Cypel. Bagnato, meanwhile, said the bacteria were "completely extinct."
In Canada there are registered patents and companies are interested in producing this engineering equipment. In Brazil, the aim is to test programs with kidneys and liver, the two most transplanted organs in the South American country.
Scientists believe that in the future it will be possible to increase organ use, reduce costs and waiting times and expand for other transplants, such as the heart or pancreas.
"Today is everything transplants, uterus, face, but very expensive, lung transplants, for example, cost around 160,000 dollars, in Brazil, several dozen are done every year, but how many people need them?" , asked Bagnato.
Another progress projected by Bagnato in the future is decontamination of organs in living humans, which can effectively produce drugs for disease.
In 2018, 20,000 transplants are needed in Brazil, adding vital organs such as the kidneys, liver, liver and lungs, but only 8,500 are made. The line for operations is more than 30,000 people, according to the Brazilian Transplant Association.