ERC Researchers Extend the Preservation of Rat Livers Fivefold Using Partial Freezing Technique

Achievement date: 

By adapting strategies used by animals to endure freezing winter temperatures, researchers with the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Advanced Technologies for the Preservation of Biological Systems (ATP-Bio), co-led by the University of Minnesota and Massachusetts General Hospital, successfully extended the preservation duration of rodent livers fivefold.


Limited preservation duration is a contributing factor to the limited number of organs that are available for transplants. Extending the length of time transplant tissue can be preserved could reduce the cost of transplantation, as well as increase the likelihood that patients in need receive lifesaving donor organs.


While the need for transplants is growing steadily, the supply of donor organs is nowhere near demand. Extending the length of time donor organs can survive outside of the body could significantly impact organ allocation, handling, and transplantation. By adapting a freeze tolerance strategy used by animals in nature, the NSF-funded team stored whole rat livers in a partially frozen state at -15°C for up to five days. The organs remained statistically the same as a transplantable control that was stored at the clinical standard for organ preservation at 4°C for one day.

This project was a collaborative effort between ATP-Bio faculty Dr. Korkut Uygun, Dr. Shannon Tessier, and Dr. Mehmet Toner, as well as industry partner Sylvatica Biotech, Inc.