LSU Health gets patent on a solution that could extend the life of transplanted organs

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTBS) — Time! It’s one of the most critical components of organ transplantation. Time to retrieve healthy organs and tissue from a donor.

And time for transportation to the recipient. There’s also the time it takes for the body to accept the transplant.

LSU Health Shreveport, along with a Massachusetts Biotech Company, holds a patent to a drug that they say can extend time, revolutionizing organ transplantation. Brenda Teele goes in-depth to look at the impact and efficacy of the drug known as Byrostatin-1.

Everyday, 18 people die while waiting for an organ transplant. Their race against the clock is over, while more than 100-thousand organ candidates continue to wait in despair.

Mike Patterson was sure the wait for a kidney that matched his blood type would be longer. He said he would wake up sick every morning, knowing he was getting worse, “They told me it would be 5 years because of my blood type B+.”

According to the Louisiana Organ Procument Agency, LOPA, right now kidney waiting list patients wait an average of 3 to 5 years before receiving a transplant.

LSU Health Shreveport Professor, Steven Alexander hopes a drug developed here in Shreveport helps reduce the wait, “We most recently patented a marine pharmaceutical called Bryostatin-1. Which we are using that will extend the life of transplant organs.”

Right now, the gold standard for organ preservation is UW Solution, a cold-storage solution developed in the late 19-80’s by the University of Wisconsin.

Bryostatin-1 would be added to the solution extending the cold storage preservation time. It would potentially make more viable organs available to people farther away and promises to make organs more readily assimilated by the transplant recipient’s body.

Alexander adds, “The drug has been used in other settings. It’s been used as a weak anti-cancer agent so we’re convinced that it has a good safety profile and we could see it being used very soon.”

But, Dr. Shokouh-Amiri, an organ transplant surgeon at Willis-Knighton, says this breakthrough is not significant, “This may enhance or improve the result a little bit but, is not a huge contribution for the transplantation.”

Willis-Knighton, the only transplant hospital in our region. He says organ preservation is not a major issue like in the past. “In the past when we did not have these solutions we had to do all the operations emergently, during the night, middle of the night.”

Dr. Shokouh-Amiri says the greater concern is an organ transplant waiting listed filled with people whose condition could have been prevented,

“We have a lot of obesity, which is becoming an epidemic. We have hepatitis, alcoholic problem, all these can be preventable and a person may never come to transplantation.”

Regardless of how a person finds them self in desperate need of a healthy organ the waiting list is long. According to LOPA there are 2000 people on the organ candidate waiting list, 1800 in need of a kidney.

One big cause for the wait is that only 2-3 percent of all deaths have the potential to be organ donors. Transplantable organs come from donors who are hospitalized, ventilated, and legally brain dead. Then it’s a matter of matching a blood type and proximity to the donor. The criteria is not as limited for tissue transplants. Sheron Raymond, Community Educator for LOPA says, “When we recover the majority of our organs, it’s mainly through brain dead, who have trauma to the head that leads to brain death and they are still on a ventilator receiving oxygen to those organs.”

The approximate maximum time for the following organs/tissues is: Lung (4-6 hours); Heart (4-6 hours); Liver (24 hours); Pancreas (24 hours); Kidney (72 hours); Corneas (14 days); Bone (5 years); Skin (5 years); Heart valves (10 years)

For those whose organs are failing, organ transplantation is a miracle, an answer to prayer. Bryostatin-1 hopes to provide the answer to even more waiting for a miracle. For now, Dr. Shokouh-Amiri says, “The best organ we have in our body is the one that God has given to us. We have to protect that one.”

Still the need for organ donors is great, especially in the black community. The first hurdle for Bryostatin-1 is for funding for clinical trials. It may be years before it’s widely available – if at all. If approved it will be called LSU Solution.

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