A new way to ‘freeze’ water could help transform organ preservation

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Freezing can be a great way of preserving assorted foodstuffs or biological tissues and organs, but it’s not without its risks. The formation of sharp ice crystals can damage cell membranes, while the defrosting process comes with its own potential dangers.

Scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the original and largest teaching hospital at Harvard Medical School, may have changed the game with a new piece of research, however. They have developed a method of maintaining water and water-based solutions in their liquid form for long periods of time, at temperatures far below the usual freezing point. The breakthrough could have major implications for long-term safe preservation of everything from blood cells and organs to the food we eat.

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Making on-demand organ transplants possible with cryopreservation

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According to a recent report in Nature Biotechnology, about 70 percent of eligible donated hearts never get utilized and up to 20 percent of donated kidneys are discarded in the United States today. And worldwide only 10 percent of the organ need is being met, according to the World Health Organization who calls the shortage “among the greatest crises facing bio-medicine today.”

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