What's Up UA? - UA Surgeon Works to Revolutionize Organ Transplantation - The Explorer: University Of Arizona

What's Up UA? - UA Surgeon Works to Revolutionize Organ Transplantation

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2013 8:35 pm

What if you could take a damaged lung from a deceased patient, clean it up and refurbish it for someone in need of a transplant? Or what if you could print someone a brand new human lung using a 3-D bioprinter?

These are among the ambitious goals of Dr. Zain Khalpey, a University of Arizona cardiothoracic surgeon who wants to revolutionize organ transplantation.

Every day, an estimated 79 people in the United States receive organ transplants, but an average of 18 people die waiting for transplants because of a shortage of donated organs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At the same time, many donor organs are routinely discarded because they are deemed unsuitable for transplant.

Khalpey, who joined the UA department of surgery this spring as an associate professor and director of clinical and translational research, hopes to change that situation. He envisions a medical landscape in which fewer organ transplants are needed in the first place, and in which organs typically disposed of as medical waste can be revitalized to help save lives.

"My love has always been in transplantation because I want to make a difference, specifically in children," Khalpey said. "I kept on seeing kids have multiple operations without resolution of the key problem resulting in a morbidly poor quality of life, so I decided to come to the U.S. to do research on transplantation."

Born in Africa, Khalpey completed his medical education in the UK and studied and worked extensively throughout Europe and the United States before deciding to pursue his organ transplantation research at the UA, the birthplace of the Total Artificial Heart.

"I think there's a rich history here, and I'm just building on the shoulders of what's already been achieved but also adding a translational angle to innovative surgical research," he said. "If I were to stand on the podium in 10 years, I'd want to be known as a translational surgeon bringing novel metabolic and cellular bench-side therapies to the clinical bedside for my transplant patients."

In addition to his clinical work at The University of Arizona Medical Center, where he recently was appointed director of the internationally renowned heart transplant program and mechanical circulatory support, Khalpey is involved in numerous research activities, focused mainly in three key areas: bridge to regeneration, organ reconditioning and organogenesis, or the creation of new organs.

The first area, bridge to regeneration, focuses on reducing the number of people who require heart transplants by improving stem cell treatments for failing hearts.

In patients requiring heart transplants, mechanical devices known as ventricular assist devices often are used to keep their failing hearts functioning while they wait for donor organs. The devices act as "a bridge to transplant." Khalpey would like to use those same devices instead as "a bridge to regeneration," as he aims to regenerate failing hearts with stem cell injections.

"I would rather not put you on the list for transplant," Khalpey said. "I would rather take your fat-derived stem cells, inject them into you and try to use the device as a bridge to regenerate your heart, rather than using transplanted tissue, where you have to be on immunosuppression for the rest of your life."

To date, clinical trials involving stem cell therapies for failing hearts have had limited success. Khalpey is involved in a series of clinical trials and studies exploring ways to improve the process. Among his efforts, he's working on transforming the cells from being pluripotent – able to differentiate into essentially any part of the body – to being multipotent – tailored to differentiate into only certain areas, such as the heart.

Khalpey's second research area, organ reconditioning, focuses on increasing the pool of donor lungs for patients requiring a lung transplant by taking donor lungs that would be thrown away and making them suitable for transplant.

He is currently developing the UA's Ex Vivo Lung Program, which will explore new ways to recondition lungs from DCD (donation after cardiac death) donors, using mechanical devices and designer drugs to manipulate the metabolism of the organs and optimize them for transplantation.

This summer, the UA will serve as a national trial site for the Expand trial, comparing the survival of DCD lungs resuscitated on a mobile ex vivo circuit versus normal lungs transplanted.

In the event that an organ can't be reconditioned, Khalpey hopes it can still be put to use in his third area of research – organogenesis, which aims to grow new organs by combining an otherwise unusable donor organ with a transplant patient's own stem cells.

The idea is that a donor heart or lung could be put into detergent and decellularized so that nothing but the organ's matrix – essentially its skeleton – remains. The organ would then be seeded with the stem cells of a patient awaiting transplant and left to grow inside a special bioreactor, developed by Khalpey and his former colleagues at Harvard and Harvard Bioscience in Boston.

"A bioreactor is like a sterile, intelligent, well-controlled and monitored incubator, where one feeds and 'cooks' this organ until it reaches a point of clinical integrity ready for implantation," Khalpey said.

Khalpey and his colleagues have already used the bioreactor to successfully grow a new pig heart and lungs and they now are experimenting with human organs. The Donor Network of Arizona has pledged all the hearts and lungs it would normally throw away to help with the research efforts. With the organs that can't be reconditioned, Khalpey plans to create a "biofarm" of frozen organ cytoskeletons for use in future organogenesis research.

Khalpley also serves as director of the department of surgery's CAPTURED Biobank. His goal is to create a bank of cardiac and thoracic tissue with a stem cell directory that could be used by medical researchers worldwide. Human stem cells would be harvested during operations, with patient consent, for future use in tissue engineered heart valves, lungs and other organs.

Finally, Khalpey also is looking at the long-range possibility of creating transplantable human hearts and lungs using a 3-D bioprinter.

Three-dimensional printing, which produces three-dimensional solid objects from digital models, has been used to create things such as architectural models, jewelry and dental crowns. Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has used the technology to engineer a lab-grown human bladder that was successfully transplanted into a patient in 2007.

Khalpey envisions doing the same thing with hearts and lungs, seeding a printed collagen or elastic organ structure with human stem cells and putting it into the bioreactor to develop.

Ultimately, Khalpey hopes his research will lead to new options for people who aren't now getting the transplants they need.

"The biggest problems right now for heart and lung transplantation are bridging the shortage of organs in the pediatric and adult arenas, increasing the donor pool and reconditioning or re-transplanting organs that have worn out due to chronic rejection," he said.

"I need to not just reform transplantation, I need to revolutionize it."

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

More about

Welcome to the discussion.

Kino College

Kino CollegeEnroll today: http://www.kinocollege.com/

Monday 09/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Don’t Underestimate Your Mind’s Eye

Thursday 09/11/2014

What's Up UA? - 'What I Wish I Had Known as a Freshman'

Tuesday 09/09/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Undergraduate Researchers Take to the Radio

Thursday 09/04/2014

What's Up UA? - Send Your Tweet – and Your Name – to an Asteroid

Tuesday 09/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Brown Foundations' $2.5 Million Kicks Off Catapult Corp

Thursday 08/28/2014

What's Up UA? - New Veterinary Degree Program Made Possible by $9M Gift is Critical for State

Monday 08/25/2014

What's Up UA? - Laser 'Lightning Rods' Channel Electricity Through Thin Air

Thursday 08/21/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Fall Enrollment Sets Record for Diversity, Number of Freshmen

Tuesday 08/19/2014

What's Up UA? - Remarkable Résumé: UA Student Journalist's Career Includes CNN, NYT Phoenix

Friday 08/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Through Innovative Partnership, 'Hot Shot' Team Tackles Yuma Produce Perils

Wednesday 08/13/2014

What's Up UA? - The UA Named a Top College by The Princeton Review

Monday 08/11/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Researchers Study Increasing Lifespan and Immune Function What's Up UA? - UA Undergrads Conducting Microgravity Research Aboard NASA's G-Force One

Monday 06/09/2014

What's up UA? - UA to Host U.S. and Mexico Officials Exploring Collaborations in Education, Innovation, Research

Thursday 06/05/2014

What's Up UA? - New Wilderness Medicine Class Hones Patient Care Skills in Rugged Conditions

Tuesday 06/03/2014

Track Cats Send Eight Athletes to TrackTown USA

Monday 06/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Bringing a Spacecraft Back From the Dead

Friday 05/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Heart Attack Patient Defies Odds with Tailored Surgical Treatment at UA Medical Center

Thursday 05/29/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Marketing Students Win National AT&T Competition

Tuesday 05/27/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists Discover Genetic Basis of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton

Friday 05/23/2014

What's up UA? - Four UA Students Picked for Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarships

Wednesday 05/21/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists Discover Genetic Basis of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton

Monday 05/19/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Tunnels Get Carbon Fiber Makeover

Thursday 05/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Earning a UA Degree, in a Grandfather’s Memory

Tuesday 05/13/2014

What's Up UA? - UA's Phoenix Cancer Center is 'Topped Off,' Joins Award-Winning Medical School Building

Thursday 05/08/2014

What's Up UA? - University of Arizona to Offer Nation’s First Bachelor of Arts in Law

Monday 05/05/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Combating Health Disparities to Build Healthier Communities

Wednesday 04/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists at the UA Make Critical End-Stage Liver Disease Discovery

Friday 04/25/2014

What's Up UA? - A Century-Long Track Record of Serving Arizona and Benefiting the State's Economy

Wednesday 04/23/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Opens Nation’s First Resource Center for Student Vets Studying Health Care UA Wildcat Instant Decision Days at PCC campuses April 29-May 2

Monday 04/21/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Scientists to Begin Construction on NASA Spacecraft that will Visit Asteroid in 2018

Thursday 04/10/2014

What's Up UA? - Spring Fling Celebrates 40th Anniversary With Return to UA Mall

Monday 04/07/2014

Mauga’s Walkoff Sweeps Stanford

Thursday 04/03/2014

What's Up UA? - 4-H Programs Bring Enrichment and Learning to Thousands in Arizona

Monday 03/31/2014

What's Up UA? - The Viruses You Don't Know About (Yet)

Tuesday 03/25/2014

What's Up UA? - Twice Torn Apart: A UA Alumna's Road to the Paralympic Games

Tuesday 03/18/2014

What's Up UA? - Tucson Village Farm Honored as Model Program for the Nation

Friday 03/14/2014

What's Up UA? - Several UA Graduate Programs Reach New Heights

Tuesday 03/11/2014

What's Up UA? - Olympics Interns Share Sochi Experiences

Friday 03/07/2014

What's Up UA? - Seeing Cancer Differently

Wednesday 03/05/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Offers Accelerated Bachelor's to Master’s Program in Environmental Health Sciences

Tuesday 03/04/2014

What's Up UA? - Third-Ranked Men's Basketball Heads to Corvallis to Face OSU

Friday 02/28/2014

What's Up UA? - UA College of Optical Sciences to Celebrate 50th Anniversary With Laser Fun Day

Thursday 02/27/2014

What's Up UA? - Obesity-Related Gut Bacteria Higher in People in Northern Climes

Monday 02/24/2014

Wildcats Sweep Sunday Doubleheader, Series From Alcorn State

Thursday 02/20/2014

What's Up UA? - First-Year UA Minority Student Retention Rate Highest Ever

Monday 02/17/2014

What's Up UA? - The Flu and You

Friday 02/14/2014

What's Up UA? - Miller to Add to Arizona’s USA Basketball Legacy

Wednesday 02/12/2014

What's Up UA? - $10M Gift to Optical Sciences is Largest Gift for Scholarships in UA History
Spacer4px

Follow us on Facebook

Online poll

Loading…