LifeGift Is a Founding Member of Biostatis Research Institute: Recent Launch to Increase Transplantation Using Cryogenic Storage of Donor Organs for Transplantation
(Houston – May 3, 2021) – LifeGift, the organ procurement organization (OPO) that facilitates organ and tissue donation in Southeast, West and North Texas, is proud to announce the launch of the Biostatis Research Institute (BRI). BRI will fund the establishment of two new academic research centers dedicated to the cryopreservation of living organs, tissues and organisms – the first in U.S. history. LifeGift was the first organ procurement organization to join BRI as a founding member.
BRI is launching three new research programs that will use pioneering technology to have an enormous impact on human health. Each of these goals is uniquely tractable from a bioengineering perspective and meets the needs of a vulnerable or underserved community of patients.
- The first human organ cryopreservation to save children in need of a transplant. Infants and small children have an especially hard time finding a matching donor organ. BRI’s research intends to extend the viability of organs through cryopreservation, allowing the time for every transplantable organ to find a child in need.
- The first functional brain banks to support research into the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, Epilepsy and other brain diseases. Currently, research is hampered by the inability to store brain tissue and because animal and laboratory models lack the unique features of the modern brain. BRI’s technologies will enable long-term storage of human brain tissue to be established for neuroscience and drug discovery.
- Extended kidney transplant storage to increase kidney transplantation. Today, kidneys and other organs must reach their recipient within hours of being donated or they become no longer viable for transplant. Extending this time window to days or weeks can allow thousands more kidneys to be transplanted each year globally. These technologies can also allow many more kidney recipients to avoid lifelong immunosuppression treatment, freeing them from life-threatening infections, cancer and other illnesses.
To help meet these challenges, BRI is funding the establishment of two research centers that will work in tight coordination. The first new research center, the Center for Biostasis at Massachusetts General Hospital, will create and apply new technologies to control ice formation at sub-freezing temperatures and condition living systems to undergo extreme temperature changes. The second new research center, the Organ and Tissue Preservation Center at the University of Minnesota, will focus on technologies to safely and rapidly rewarm cryopreserved organs and other living systems.
“We are thrilled to have been the first founding member of Biostasis Research Institute among all organ procurement organizations,” said Kevin Myer, president and CEO of LifeGift. “This partnership aligns perfectly with LifeGift’s focus on research and innovation to support our efforts to increase transplantation. We are relentless in our goal to save more lives through donation, and BRI’s initiatives will drive clinical advancements that allow us to transplant more patients and further important clinical research.”
“Almost one third of all deaths in the United States are caused by organ failure. Today less than 3% of this need is being met by organ transplantation in the U.S. and even less globally. A major contributor to the problem is the inability to store organs; the establishment of organ banks could make thousands more transplants possible, while adding years and sometimes decades of healthy life for organ recipients,” said Dr. Sebastian Giwa, founder of BRI and founder of the Organ Preservation Alliance.
LifeGift is a nonprofit, 501(c) 3 organization that offers hope to individuals needing transplants in 109 Texas counties in Southeast, North and West Texas. It is a founding member of Donate Life Texas, the organization that manages the organ, eye and tissue donor registry. Please visit www.LifeGift.org.