By combining the use of drug-carrying nanoparticles with an organ-preserving machine, researchers have developed a procedure that could help improve long-term outcomes for transplant recipients.

An example of nanoparticle accumulations in a biopsy taken from a human kidney stained with vasculature.
(Credit: Jenna DiRito/ Gregory T. Tietjen)

A technology known as ex vivo normothermic machine perfusion (NMP) has emerged in recent years as a means of keeping a donor organ “alive” outside the body before implantation. It has also helped increase the number of organs suitable for transplant. Researchers are working to expand the technology’s rehabilitation abilities with a nanoparticle-based drug-delivery system that can deliver a variety of treatments directly to critical targets in a human kidney while it is still in the device.

To target the cells, researchers coated nanoparticles with an antibody that targets CD31, a protein abundant in the endothelium. These particles were injected into the perfusion device while its fluid was passing through a donor kidney for periods of four to six hours.