Edmonton Research Gains International Attention

Edmonton AB – November 13, 2020

The University Hospital Foundation and University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry are delighted to announce that the ground-breaking work of two Edmonton-based researchers is gaining more international attention with the recent announcement that Nature Communications, a prominent online medical journal based in London, England, is publishing their work.

Dr. Darren Freed, a cardiac surgeon and Director of Research for the University of Alberta’s Alberta Transplant Institute, and Dr. Jayan Nagendran, a fellow cardiac surgeon, and the Surgical Director of Lung Transplantation at the University of Alberta and the Director of Research for the Division of Cardiac Surgery at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute (‘the Maz’), teamed up to create the ex-vivo organ support system (EVOSS) that stands to revolutionize the world of organ transplantation.

“Having our manuscript published in Nature Communications is the highest level of peer-reviewed validation of the revolutionary medical technology being developed here at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute,” said Dr. Nagendran. “We are very proud that our first-in-human clinical trial at the ‘Maz’ at the University of Alberta Hospital led to saving 12 lives of patients awaiting lung transplantation who may have perished on our wait list if we did not convert unusable donor lungs into excellent quality organs.”

Graduates of the University of Alberta, Freed (’98, MD) and Nagendran (’01 MD/‘09 PhD) developed EVOSS, a technology that uses negative-pressure ventilation to replicate the way our chest cavity expands and contracts with each breath, by mimicking the natural process of breathing.

EVOSS ventilates donated lungs in an ex-vivo (“out of the living” body) organ perfusion device, which constantly supplies the lungs with blood and oxygen and keeps them warm and working, similar to the conditions inside the body, while awaiting transplant.

“I don’t think that it’s a stretch to say that the future of transplantation is ex-vivo organ perfusion,” said Freed. “There will be a time in the near future when 90 per cent of all organs are transplanted having been perfused out of the body.”

More than $1 million has been invested into this project by the University Hospital Foundation and the Alberta Transplant Innovation Fund (ATIF), a partnership between the Government of Alberta Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, Astellas Pharma Canada Inc., and the University Hospital Foundation. ATIF was established to fund research, just like this, aimed at improving the care available to transplant patients, and accelerating the translation of this research into technology that is commercially viable – and therefore available to clinicians and patients.

“The University Hospital Foundation is proud to support innovators like Dr. Freed and Dr. Nagendran through the generosity of our donors, and we are excited that their ground-breaking work is gaining international attention,” said Dr. Jodi L. Abbott, President & CEO of the University Hospital Foundation. “Supporters of the University Hospital Foundation are transforming health here in our community and around the world, by investing donations in pioneering research and technology development.”

This research also received funding and national infrastructure support through the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program, which is led out of the University of Alberta, as well as funding from the Alberta Transplant Institute. The funding from the Institute was instrumental in getting the work launched.

Now into its tenth year, Nature Communications is a peer-reviewed, open access, scientific journal published by Nature Research. It is a multidisciplinary journal, covering the natural sciences, including physics, chemistry, earth sciences, medicine, and biology. The journal has editorial offices in London, Berlin, New York City, and Shanghai. Read about Dr. Freed and Dr. Nagendran’s research in Nature Communications here.


University Hospital Foundation

The University Hospital Foundation raises and manages funds to advance patient care, research and healthcare innovation at the University of Alberta Hospital, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Kaye Edmonton Clinic, as well as to research at the University of Alberta and care in the community though Alberta Health Services (AHS). For more information visit GivetoUHF.ca.

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