In The News - Volume 2 - Issue 7 - February 14, 2016

Johns Hopkins approved to perform HIV-positive to HIV-positive organ transplants
(CNN)It could mean the difference between life and death for more than 1,000 people in the United States each year.
Doctors at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have been given the okay to become the first hospital in the country to perform HIV-positive to HIV-positive organ transplants.
"This is an unbelievably exciting day for our hospital and our team, but more importantly for patients living with HIV and end-stage organ disease," said Dorry Segev, associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "For these individuals, this means a new chance at life."
Feb 9/16

National underutilization of preemptive and early kidney transplants
ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A kidney transplant is a life-changing and life-saving procedure. Yet, a new study conducted by Mayo Clinic and the University of Michigan shows that only one-third of patients who ultimately receive a living donor kidney transplant receive it pre-emptively (i.e., before starting dialysis). Less than two-thirds receive a transplant either pre-emptively or within a year of starting dialysis.
Existing research suggests that less time spent on dialysis before transplant can improve patient outcomes and survival after transplant. However, this new research shows there has been no increase in the utilization of what is known as timely living donor kidney transplants, which includes pre-emptive and early transplants, since 2006. The study "Under-utilization of timely kidney transplants in those with living donors," was published recently in the American Journal of Transplantation.
Feb 8/16

Researchers Experiment With 3-D Printer to Produce Human Body Parts
Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades, but doctors and their patients still face the problem of tissue rejection and the need to quickly supply blood to the transplanted organ.
Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant.
They are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
This 3-D printer is using a sugar solution to make molds, which can be used to make silicone veins and arteries.
Feb 8/16

Transplant Organizations issue a guidance statement regarding Zika virus
The Zika virus has been in the headlines lately for its apparent association of microcephaly in the children of mothers infected when they were pregnant. While there is a strong correlation, a true causation has not been completely verified, and is still being investigated.  In most people the virus causes only very mild illness that resolves on its own (such as fever, rash, muscle aches, and headache), and in many individuals is completely asymptomatic. Occasionally, its effects can be more severe, such as leading to reported cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (a severe neuromuscular illness causing paralysis). It is still not known exactly why some people may develop severe complications while the majority do not. Zika virus has been covered previously on the ZME website.
It is also known that while the Zika virus typically spreads by an insect vector (the mosquito Aedes aegypti in most cases), it is now thought to also spread by sexual contact. It is uncertain if transmission could occur thorough organ donation, but if virus is present in the blood or other body fluids, then this mode of transmission would be possible in principle. Due to concern that this unusual mode of transmission could affect a vulnerable population, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has set up an Ad Hoc Disease Transmission Advisory Committee (DTAC) to provide information and recommendations to transplant physicians, and this month came out with the first guidelines. As a transplant physician myself ( I’m a pediatric nephrologist, caring for children with End-Stage Kidney Disease who will need or have received a kidney transplant), I recognize the need to be certain that our supply of donor organs are safe for our patients, and to be able to advise our current transplant patients about travel to areas where Zika is known to be endemic.
Feb 8/16

Human organ transplants could be 3D-printed in 15 years – Russian researchers
The future is here…well, almost: human organ transplants, printed on 3D printers, could be functioning in 15 years, according to the vice president of Russia's Skolkovo science and research initiative, Kirill Kaem.
His certainty is based on the successful transplant of a thyroid gland - produced on a Russian 3D printer – into a lab mouse last November.
“Our resident company is one of five in the world that can produce a functioning bio-printer. They printed an organ, transplanted it into a mouse, and the thyroid works, producing hormones,” Kaem said at a press conference in Novosibirsk, as quoted by TASS.
The company, he added, focuses on potential human transplants of 3D-printed organs, too.
“They are set to print other organs, and are now talking about making a kidney, a liver. It is now at the lab level, but it will allow the development of the bioprinter itself,” Kaem emphasized.
Feb 9/16

Cotton Candy Machines Could Revolutionize Organ Transplantation: New Tissue Engineering Method Could Create Artificial Organs
A humble cotton candy machine is about to revolutionize the field of tissue engineering and build artificial organs, paving the way forward for organ transplantation, research suggests.
Leon Bellan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University in Tennesse, has developed a process using cotton candy machines, to spin out networks of tiny threads comparable to capillaries. His goal is to eventually build fiber networks that can be used as templates to create full-scale artificial organs. His work, along with that of his colleagues, was published in an article by the Advanced Healthcare Materials journal.
Feb 12/16