Scientists at the University of Missouri School of Medicine report the development of a novel technique that more than doubles the life of donated tissue for joint replacement. Physicians currently have to dispose of over 80% of such tissue because it does not survive long enough to be transplanted.

“It's a game-changer,” said James Stannard, M.D., co-author of the study and J. Vernon Luck Sr. distinguished professor of orthopaedics surgery at the medical school. “The benefit to patients is that more graft material will be available and it will be of better quality. This will allow us as surgeons to provide a more natural joint repair option for our patients.”

The technology, called the Missouri Osteochondral Allograft Preservation System (MOPS) more than doubles the storage life of bone and cartilage grafts from organ donors compared to the current preservation method used by tissue banks. In traditional preservation methods, donated tissues are stored within a medical-grade refrigeration unit in sealed bags filled with a standard preservation solution. MOPS utilizes a newly developed preservation solution and special containers designed by the MU research team that allows the tissues to be stored at room temperature.

In the study (“A Novel System Improves Preservation of Osteochondral Allografts”), published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, clinical outcomes of the standard preservation approach and the new MOPS technology were assessed. Researchers found that by using MOPS, the storage time for donor tissue could be extended to at least 60 days, versus the current storage time of approximately 28 days.

“Time is a serious factor when it comes to utilizing donated tissue for joint repairs,” said study co-author James Cook, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of MU's comparative orthopaedic laboratory and the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute's division of research. “With the traditional preservation approach, we only have about 28 days after obtaining the grafts from organ donors before the tissues are no longer useful for implantation into patients. Most of this 28-day window of time is used for testing the tissues to ensure they are safe for use. This decreases the opportunity to identify an appropriate recipient, schedule surgery and get the graft to the surgeon for implantation.”

“These findings provide a promising development in osteochondral allograft technology that can benefit the quantity of grafts available for use and the quality of grafts being implanted,” wrote the investigators.

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