The Biostasis Research Institute (BRI) has established two new research centres at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Minnesota to create human organ banks through the cryogenic storage of organs donated for transplantation.

Launched on Wednesday (21st April), BRI said the centres will develop new technologies to store tissues, organs, and whole organisms for biomedical research as part of a larger “Apollo Program” in cryopreservation and suspended animation.

The first new research centre, the Center for Biostasis at Massachusetts General Hospital, will create and apply new technologies to control ice formation at sub-freezing temperatures and condition living systems to undergo extreme temperature changes.

BRI said the centre will be housed at the largest Harvard-affiliated research hospital and led by Drs. Mehmet Toner, Korkut Uygun, and Shannon Tessier.

The second research centre, the Organ and Tissue Preservation Center at the University of Minnesota, will focus on technologies to safely and rapidly rewarm cryopreserved organs and other living systems.

Housed within the University of Minnesota Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM), the centre will be led by the IEM Director, Dr. John Bischof, and Department of Surgery faculty member, Dr. Erik Finger.

The research effort has already reached over $100m in funding from US science, agencies, philanthropic donors and industry partners.

Initially, the bioengineering research will focus on three objectives, each of which are uniquely tractable from a bioengineering perspective and meets the needs of a vulnerable or underserved community of patients.

“This institute is another major step forward in the ability to store life,” said Jedediah Lewis, co-founder and Director of the BRI. “These technologies can bring to science and medicine what other domains, such as energy and agriculture, have taken for granted for centuries: practical, widespread distribution of humanity’s most important lifesaving resources. The benefits for human health will be profound.” 

“In a few short years, a modern day ‘Apollo Program’ in cryopreservation has started to take shape. Having progressed from individual-driven projects to well over $100m in funding and the convergence of organ banking technologies, the time is now opportune in this field to develop the Biostasis Research Institute,” added Professor Mehmet Toner, Co-Director of the new Center for Biostasis at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“With this institute now launching and funding a new Center for Biostasis at Massachusetts General Hospital, we are excited to play a lead role in driving this research forward.”