Organ transplants are frequently life-saving, but they remain a gamble when your body can reject the new organ well after the initial surgery. Yale researchers have discovered a clever solution to this: prevent your body from noticing the organ until it settles in. They’ve developed a drug delivery system that uses nanoparticles to slowly supply small interfering RNA (siRNA) that stops your body’s white blood cells from attacking the organ as a foreign presence. Instead of lasting mere days, the siRNA lasts as long as 6 weeks. This won’t necessarily eliminate the rejection response, but it should be far easier to control if and when it kicks in. You can customise the nanoparticles to achieve a specific effect, such as carrying more of the drug. It’s also specific to the organ you’re targeting, so there shouldn’t be inadvertent damage. The team’s next focus is on applying their nanoparticle system to kidney transplants, and it’s going to be a long time before this method is useful in the field. If it does pan out, though, it could dramatically reduce the risks associated organ transplants. Scientists would want to develop artificial organs more to keep up with demand and less as a back-up for those times when natural organs don’t take.
Engadget, 6 August 2017 ; http://www.engadget.com