With a closing session on New Tools for Organ Cryopreservation on August 6, this year’s Organ Banking Summit closes the 2017 annual meeting.
Taking place between Harvard Medical School (which hosted the opening day) and the Hyatt Regency in Boston (where the sessions on August 5 and 6 took place), the Organ Banking Summit is a unique, intimate symposium that aims to highlight scientific and technological advances that are leading to breakthroughs in organ preservation.
The meeting focuses on methodological advances and mechanistic insights into issues of tissue and organ banking and cryopreservation through sessions on reducing cryoprotectant toxicity, enhancing stress tolerance and strategies for uniform cooling and warming.
Hosted by Dr. Mehmed Toner, Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and chaired by Jedediah Lewis of the Organ Preservation Alliance, this year’s meeting opened with a large panel on the “Grand Challenge of Organ Banking,” with short talks by Dr. Toner alongside John Bischof (University of Minnesota), Helen Picton (University of Leeds) and Charity Sunshine Tillemann- Dick, opera singer and double lung transplant recipient. Key issues discussed included key societal and economic needs and challenges for organ preservation, the potential afforded by new technologies – 3D printing and biomaterials, in particular to advance not only the tools available but, in particular, mechanistic understanding of the key drivers to organ damage during cooling, storage, transport and rewarming, and the ability to control organ repair and replacement alongside cryopreservation.
The August 5 session on the impact of organ banking on organ transplantation highlighted shortfalls and opportunities, which echoed common themes throughout the meeting: a need for a better theoretical understanding of the cooling and warming processes (radiofrequency-triggered heating is being studied as an option) and ice-induced tissue and organ damage. Adam Higgins, from Oregon state University, shoed an example of how the understanding of mechanistic elements of cryopreservation can be achieved via mathematical modeling of ice recrystallization processes.
Dr. Shaf Kheshavjee, Director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program and Senior Scientist at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, discussed questions on the need to repair and improve organs before cryopreserving as a personalized medicine approach. Further along lies the work of eGenesis, co-founded by George Church, who spoke on the company’s quest of using CRISPR to generate de novo cross-species transplantable organs “on demand.”
And with the announcement of Hackaton winners – a brainstorm next-generation banking-related competition held alongside the summit – the meeting adjourned until next year.