Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Rewarming Organs

PostedApril 2, 2017

Download File (mp3)

LEDE: Human organs must be used for transplant soon after removal, but freezing them often causes damage. Engineers are developing a solution.

Randy Atkins: Organs can be preserved through vitrification, a way of rapidly cooling to a glass-like state that avoids formation of ice crystals. Still organs are often damaged during the slow, uneven thawing process. So John Bischof, a bioengineer at the University of Minnesota, is developing a way to warm tissue using tiny iron oxide nanoparticles.

John Bischof: We distribute the heat sources with these nanoparticles throughout the system in a sufficiently homogeneous way that we can bring the whole thing back in a fast and uniform warming protocol.

Randy Atkins: The F-D-A approved nanoparticles can heat up 200 degrees Celsius per minute when bathed in electromagnetic waves.

John Bischof: It's a non-contact inductive heating approach using nanoparticles and radio frequency fields to bring vitrified systems back from a successfully vitrified state.

Randy Atkins: Bischof's team is now testing the technique with small animal organs and hopes to try it with human organs soon. With The National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.