Originally Published MDDI November 2003
A device to make the organs of brain-dead donors more suitable for transplant will be evaluated in a government-funded study. The project will assess the performance of a product called CytoSorb, which its developers believe will be able to absorb molecules that harm tissues and organs after brain death. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in September received a three-year grant of $947,925 from the Department of Health and Human Services for the study.
After brain death, organ quality and function are compromised by a process researchers do not yet fully understand. Somehow, brain death triggers an inflammatory response and leads to the release of molecules called cytokines. Cytokines invade tissue and impair organ function, compromising them before they can even be removed for transplantation.
CytoSorb was developed by RenalTech International, LLC (New York City). It is designed to absorb the cytokines before they can get into tissues after brain death. The device is based around a cartridge containing millions of beads made of a special polymer that is designed to remove cytokines from the bloodstream.
At the end of the study, researchers hope to have used the device on 60 donors providing organs to 225 recipients. They would like to show that more organs are viable for transplantation after use of CytoSorb than would otherwise be expected, and that graft function in recipients is improved.
The study will be conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), among other sites.
Separately, CytoSorb is being tested by UPMC researchers for the treatment of severe sepsis, septic shock, and multisystem organ failure in living patients. Preclinical studies showed significant reductions in key molecular mediators of severe sepsis.
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