Researchers at Brazil's University of Sao Paulo have discovered a way to sterilise organs to be used as transplants, thanks to a novel use of light to eliminate any virus or bacteria the donor might carry.
According to specialists, biophoton therapy, as it is known, will undoubtedly increase the number of organs available and reduce after-surgery complications.
"At present the sterilisation of organs for transplants does not exist. What is done is to simply remove the blood, but the microorganisms remain alive. Either the organ is discarded or, if there is no other way to avoid death, it is implanted though still contaminated," the co-ordinator of the group of scientists, Vanderlei Bagnato, told EFE.
The procedure consists, firstly, of removing the organ's blood and substituting it, through an external tube, with a liquid that keeps it alive.
This liquid is exposed to ultraviolent rays, which destroy the cellular membranes of the microorganisms and their DNA.
"The ultraviolet rays are applied outside the organ so as not to kill its cells, but rather eliminate the viruses and bacteria captured by the liquid," Bagnato said.
Placed in the liquid as a complement, on the other hand, are substances sensitive to visible and infrared light, which are capable of selecting viruses and bacteria.
Later, these light frequencies are applied to the organ and stimulate the substances to oxidise the microorganisms and attack such viruses as hepatitis and AIDS.
According to the scientist, the liquid is used more than once because it is still very expensive.
The original experiments were done on pig lungs, then on humans without transplants, and finally they were done on patients.
Scientists believe that in the future the use of organs can be improved, costs and waiting time reduced, and other transplants, like those of the heart and pancreas, expanded.
Australian Associated Press