One of the banes of the transplant surgeon is that rare donor organs cannot be frozen and stored for later use — freezing and thawing do too much damage to tissues.
In a Brief Communication to this week's Nature (Vol. 415, No. 6870, 24 January 2002), however, Roger Gosden of McGill University in Montreal and colleagues describe the successful transplantation in rats of organs after storage in liquid nitrogen.
The organs in question were ovaries with their fallopian tubes attached, and the rats were genetically identical, overcoming the problem of tissue rejection. Although the transplanted ovaries were less efficient after freezing, more than half ovulated normally and one recipient became pregnant.
If it can one day be applied to humans, the procedure would offer an option to women and children who would otherwise be sterilized by chemotherapy. Advances in freezing techniques could also make it possible to store and successfully transplant other organs, the researchers suggest.
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