Organ cryopreservation is considered a frontier discipline in both cryobiology and medicine. For several decades, we have been able to successfully cryopreserve semen, blood, embryos, oocytes, stem cells, and other thin samples of small clumps of cells. However, we have not yet been able to cryopreserve whole human internal organs, as they sustain too much injury during the cooling process.
Successful preservation of organs can increase the effectiveness and decrease the cost of organ replacement by reducing the geographical and time constraints associated with organ transplantation. This would help the more than 100,000 people currently on the national waiting list for organ donation.
Organ cryopreservation could also provide a way for people to store and manage replacement organs grown from their own stem cells, instead of having to wait on a compatible donor. The regeneration of organs could help substantially postpone more than 30 percent of all deaths in the U.S., raising the probability of living to the age of 80 by a factor of two and the age of 90 by a factor of more than 10.
The success of this prize could transform transplantation from the small field it is today into what will likely become the largest field in medicine. In this new future, cryopreserved tissues would not only be used to replace body parts, repair wounds, and replenish diseased or dead tissues, but could also eventually be used to rejuvenate aging people and make whole-body cryonics a reality.
The winning team will be the first to transplant a vital organ into five animals that lack their own and achieve three months’ posttransplant survival, having stored each organ below –120°C for at least one week prior to transplantation.
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