Brazilians develop technique to decontaminate transplanted organs

Publicado em 24 março 2019

Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, in Brazil, discovered a way to decontaminate organs intended for transplants thanks to an innovative method that uses light to end viruses and donor bacteria.

According to the specialists, biophotonic therapy, as is known, should expand the options of available organs and reduce the complications after surgery.

"There is currently no decontamination of organs for transplants. What is done is just the withdrawal of blood, but the microorganisms are still alive. Or the organ is discarded or, if there is no Another alternative to avoid death, is placed contaminated, "explained the coordinator of the group of scientists, Vanderlei Bagnato.

The inquiry began in 2015 next to the University of Toronto, Canada, which operates the largest program of lung transplants in the world. The Canadians were in charge of the clinical part of the project, while Brazilians took on the development of the technique.

About $ 1 million were invested and the Brazilian part, responsible for about 10%, was in the hands of the Sao Paulo Perquisition Foundation (FAPESP).

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

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

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

On the other hand, as a complement, they are placed in the liquid substances that are sensitive to visible and infrared light, which are capable of selecting viruses and bacteria.

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

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

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

For the person responsible for the project in Canada, Marcelo Cypel, the results were optimal.

"We have already done 10 testes with patients, of which in two the presence of virus was eliminated and in eight was significantly reduced," evaluated Cypel. Bagnato, for its part, assured that the bacteria are "completely extinguished."

In Canada there is already a registered patent and companies interested in manufacturing the equipment of the technique. In Brazil, the goal is to try 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 the use of the organs, reduce their costs and waiting and expand time for other transplants, such as heart or pancreas.

"Today, there is a transplant of everything, a womb, but it is very expensive. A lung transplant, for example, costs around $ 160,000. In Brazil, dozens are made annually, but how many people need it ? " , questioned Bagnato.

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

In 2018, 20,000 transplants were needed in Brazil, adding vital organs such as kidneys, hearts, livers and lungs, but only 8,500 were made. The row for surgeries is more than 30,000 people, according to the Brazilian Association of Transplants.