G.M. Fahy

The current research effort in regenerative medicine has involved the expenditure of several billion US dollars to date, but relatively little attention has been paid to the fate of engineered tissue replacements between the time they are produced and the time they are used (inventory control and supply chain management). The problems of cryogenic banking of complex tissue replacements are much more serious than those involved in ordinary cell and tissue banking, and new technology will be required to overcome the limitations of current methods. The best option for a wide range of engineered tissues and organs is vitrification, wherein the development of ice is precluded during cooling to and storage at cryogenic temperatures and the construct is instead preserved in the vitreous or glassy state. My laboratory has been pursuing this approach for many years using natural organs as model systems and recently reported the first permanent survival of a rabbit supported by a previously vitrified kidney as the sole renal support. We have also demonstrated the compatibility of vitrification with the physical integrity of Cordis-Dow Artificial Kidneys. It therefore appears that vitreous banking of all tissue engineered constructs is likely to be possible in the future, making it practical to deliver replacement organs and tissues to patients when and where they are needed. Projections of the impact of full use of tissue engineering for the treatment of organ failure in aging patients suggests that this approach alone could increase the probability of surviving to the age of 90 from less than 5% currently to more than 40%, even with no direct progress in slowing down aging itself.

Keywords (Optional): 
life extension