World 1st in Zurich: Cutting-edge machine enables successful fat removal from human livers

28-11-2023 – An interdisciplinary group of surgeons, engineers, and biologists from the Wyss Zurich Translational Center, University of Zurich, and ETH Zurich, has established a new strategy that allows removal of fat from fatty human livers outside the body.

L4 L team v3

The Liver4Life project team is announcing a new breakthrough as it has been able to remove fat from livers. Fatty livers, a condition known as liver steatosis, are arising due to sedentary lifestyle and diet. Fatty livers are one of the main causes of declining liver organs for transplantation and their numbers are on the rise. Being able to remove fat from livers holds the potential to transform these otherwise unsuitable organs into acceptable donor organs.

Paving the way for the ex-situ (outside the body) treatment of transplants

The Liver4Life team recently induced spontaneous fat decrease by performing a sufficiently long and stable perfusion of fatty livers. These results were further improved by applying a tailored perfusion protocol over a period of up to 12 days to provide a more efficient and pronounced fat decrease.

A landmark advance that could soon be transferred to the clinic.

This landmark study demonstrates that fatty livers can be defatted under optimal normothermic (normal body temperature) perfusion between 3 to 12 days while maintaining a normal function outside the body. The observed fat decrease was markedly enhanced by the application of a special perfusion protocol. In this study, a liver with 70% fat content could be reduced to almost 0% without affecting organ function and maintaining a healthy liver tissue. This approach is groundbreaking because it could enable the recovery of fatty livers for use in human transplants and offers a prospect to patients who need a liver transplant and face a long waiting time.