March 17, 2013
Device Feeds Liver Outside Body

A medical first: Livers can be kept alive outside the body while getting transported for a liver recipient. A pump replicates of function of the heart and an oxygenator replicates the function of the lungs with the liver maintained at body temperature. Donor organ quality will improve. Used at King's College London to do liver transplants.

This is a big step in the direction of a much more ambitious goal: grow new livers outside the body. I especially like biomedical technologies developed to achieve smaller goals that are also steps toward achieving full body rejuvenation. If we can grow organs outside the body we will eventually be able to replace old worn out organs with new young organs.

This Oxford device only keeps a liver alive 24 hours.

All of our cells are ticking down to senescence. One notable aging biomarker is the telomere, a cap found on every chromosome. This report reminds a recent report that found shorter telomeres on immune cells predict susceptibility to the common cold starting at age 22. Yes, your decay really does start that early. Telomere length in the immune CD8CD28-T cells predicted odds of getting rhinovirus 39 (one of the main viruses that cause colds) as well as severity of infection.

Analysis indicated that only telomere length in the CD8CD28- subset was associated with risk for clinical illness, with shorter telomere length associated with increased risk. Among participants with the shortest telomeres, 26 percent became clinically ill. The rate for clinical illness was 13 percent for those in the group with the longest telomeres.

The reason I bring this up: There's continuum of difficulty for growing different types of cells and organs outside the body. The hardest will be organs with really complex 3-D structures such as kidneys and hearts. Livers are more amorphous and therefore growth of livers outside the body should prove easier than growth of lungs, hearts, or kidneys.

I'm guessing growth of youthful immune cells outside the body should be easier still. That's good because the immune system serves many functions aside from killing pathogens. e.g. regulate and dispose of red blood cells, clear the plaque associated with Alzheimer's disease, and regulate neurons.

I'm betting we will get replacement immune cells and stem cells before we get replacement organs grown outside the body.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 March 17 01:23 PM 

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