A team of scientists from the UCLA has been awarded a three-year, $2 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to fund research aimed at increasing the quality of donor livers.
 
Dr. Jerzy W. Kupiec-Weglinski, principal investigator for the project and director of the Dumont-UCLA Transplantation Research Center, said he hopes his research will address the decreasing quality of donor organs and a widening disparity between the increasing numbers of potential transplant recipients and inadequate donor organ supply.
 
The major factor contributing to the decrease in organ quality is the aging donor population and conditions associated with aging that make the liver less desirable. These “suboptimal” organs are more susceptible to the harmful effects of ischemia/reperfusion injury, innate immune-mediated tissue damage that occurs during organ harvesting and during periods of extended cold preservation. Even if successfully transplanted, these marginal livers experience a high incidence of early dysfunction and late rejection.
 
“Our project has the potential to result in a significant paradigm shift, opening up the possibility of developing new ways to improve donor organ quality and allow use of otherwise unusable livers,” he said. “If we succeed, it will have a major and direct impact on organ transplantation worldwide.”