Brazilians develop technique to decontaminate transplanted organs

Publicado em 23 março 2019

According to experts, biophoton therapy, as it is known, should expand the available organ options and reduce complications after surgery.

"Currently, there is no decontamination of organs for transplants, only the removal of blood, but the microorganisms are still alive, or the organ is discarded or, if there is no other alternative to prevent death, it is contaminated," he told Efe. coordinator of the group of scientists, Vanderlei Bagnato.

The research began in 2015 with the University of Toronto, Canada, which operates the world's largest lung transplant program. The Canadians were responsible for the clinical part of the project, while the Brazilians were responsible for the development of the technique.

Approximately US $ 1 million were invested and the Brazilian part, responsible for about 10%, was in the hands of the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

The procedure consists, first of all, in the removal of blood from the organ and, through an external tube connected to the blood vessels, is replaced by a liquid that keeps it alive.

This liquid is exposed to ultraviolet rays, which destroy the cell membranes of microorganisms and their DNA.

"Ultraviolet rays are applied outside the organ to not kill their own cells, but the viruses and bacteria trapped by the liquid," Bagnato said.

On the other hand, as a complement, substances sensitive to visible light and infrared, able to select viruses and bacteria, are placed in the liquid.

Subsequently, these light frequencies are applied to the organ, which stimulates the substances to oxidize microorganisms and cause damage to viruses, such as hepatitis and AIDS.

According to the scientist, the liquid is used more than once because it is still very expensive, with a value of 1,500 dollars per liter.

The initial experiments were done with pig lungs, then with non-transplanted humans, and finally were tested on patients.

For the project manager in Canada, Marcelo Cypel, the results were great.

"We have already done ten tests with patients, of which in two the elimination of the virus was eliminated and in eight it was significantly reduced," Cypel said. Bagnato, meanwhile, said the bacteria are "completely extinct."

In Canada there is already a registered patent and companies interested in manufacturing the equipment of the technique. In Brazil, the goal is to test the program with kidneys and livers, the two most transplanted organs in the South American country.

Scientists believe that in the future, it will be possible to improve organ use, reduce costs and waiting time, and expand to other transplants such as the heart or pancreas.

"Today is a transplant of everything, the uterus, the face, but it is very expensive, a lung transplant, for example, costs about 160 thousand dollars, in Brazil, a few dozens are done annually, but how many people need?" , asked Bagnato.

Another advance that Bagnato projects in the future is the decontamination of organs in living people, which could effectively generate a cure for diseases.

In 2018, it took 20,000 transplants in Brazil, adding vital organs such as kidneys, heart, liver and lung, but only 8,500 were produced. The line of surgeries is of more than 30 thousand people, according to the Brazilian Transplant Association. EFE