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Biotech Medicine Science

Chemical Cocktail Can Keep a Heart Viable 10 Days, Outside the Body 97

Posted by timothy
from the with-very-few-exceptions-not-a-worm dept.
nj_peeps writes "Harvard professor Hemant Thatte has developed a cocktail of 21 chemical compounds that he calls Somah, derived from the Sanskrit for 'ambrosia of rejuvenation.' Using Somah, Thatte and his team have accomplished some amazing feats with pig hearts. They can keep the organ viable for transplant up to 10 days after harvest — far longer than the four-hour limit seen in hospitals today. Not only that, but using low temperatures and Somah, they were able to take a pig heart that was removed post mortem and get it to beat 24 hours later in the lab."
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Chemical Cocktail Can Keep a Heart Viable 10 Days, Outside the Body

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  • Good morning... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fluffeh (1273756)
    Doctor Livingst... errr...Frankenstein I presume?
  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday May 14, 2010 @11:41PM (#32217192) Journal

    Neato. If this could be applied to human hearts, this could significantly open the options organ recipients have to save their lives. Perhaps even expand what kind of medical procedures that could be done on the human heart that may be limited by how long the heart can be kept viable outside the body.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday May 14, 2010 @11:58PM (#32217294) Journal

      Neato. If this could be applied to human hearts, this could significantly open the options organ recipients have to save their lives.

      I'm more interested in how this will effect the international market for organs.
      Usually you have to go there, or the donor has to come here.
      But if this translates to human physiology, organ trafficking will become a real problem.

      • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @04:08AM (#32218202)

        And faster cars make it easier for criminals to get away from crime scenes.
        And cash make it easier for criminals to hide their tracks.
        And RFID embedded into the underside of the skull at birth would make it easier to track down criminals later in life.

        A lot of the technology we have available or will develop in the foreseeable future has the potential to be used in bad ways. That doesn't mean we should stop developing them.

        • That doesn't mean we shouldn't also think about the bad side. I don't want to see rich countries buying organs from poorer countries, especially if those organs belonged to someone who died from a poverty related illness.

          But they can make a law against that. Woot! The most important thing is that this is going to be great and save lots of lives!
          That is if it works, they haven't put it back inside a pig and got it working yet, have they?
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            I don't want to see rich countries buying organs from poorer countries, especially if those organs belonged to someone who died from a poverty related illness. But they can make a law against that.

            If someone dies from poverty all the more reason to give a windfall to their family so that maybe they won't have to die too. "Making a law" would drive up prices, but mostly for the middlemen, who as criminals would be more ruthless in exploiting donors or in creatively sourcing organs through murder.

            • If a life in the western world is saved every time someone in the rest of the world dies then what motivation do we have for helping them?
              It's inhuman and it suggests that our lives are somehow worth more because we can afford to pay for them.
              Not to mention the price would be as low as the market could stand, and that would be pretty low.
              If someone is starving and you offer them money to do something, that's the same as pointing a gun at their head. It's a joke to call it a choice.
              • by lessthan (977374)
                This isn't what you meant, but, technically, if I have more money than you, then I am worth more... Of course, I understand that "human life is precious" etc.

                If someone is starving and you offer them money to do something, that's the same as pointing a gun at their head

                You may not see it as a choice, but it is a choice. Would they make the right choice? Probably not. Doesn't mean that it isn't a choice.

                • Two arguments over semantics there.

                  Yes you could say if someone held a gun to your head you had the choice to die or to do what they said.. but that would never hold up in court or under moral scrutiny and you know it.
                  So why not address my points instead of meandering around the dictionary definitions of "Choice" and "Worth"
                  • by lessthan (977374)

                    Okay. You argue that this drug will make the third world our personal organ bank. After that happens, why would we send aid that might cut off our precious, precious supply of organs? The argument is silly, because organ recipients and those that do charity are not groups that overlap significantly. Why should one affect the other?

                    There is already an organ market. It is illegal almost everywhere, but it still exists. This has not caused us to stop sending aid to places that need it.

                    Talking about moral impli

                    • I did not argue that. I didn't argue any of those things.
                      All I said was this would be a possibility if we weren't vigilant.
                      I agree it's ridiculous to worry about progress in case someone runs the wrong way with something.. but all that stops anyone from doing that is us being concerned about it. Look at the extra steps goggle have taken towards privacy this week... all because so many people are incredibly paranoid about 1984, and right to be, because it is 1984 in countries like China (where they're no
                • by sjames (1099)

                  When the "choice" is do X or die, it's not really a choice. That's why you can't rob someone at gunpoint and claim it was a voluntary donation. If the 'gun' is extreme poverty and you are not somehow responsible for that poverty, you are in a slightly better moral position but in general society doesn't look favorably on taking excessive advantage of the misfortunes of others.

          • by Pence128 (1389345)

            ...those organs belonged to someone who died from having their organs harvested.

            FTFY.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I'm more interested in how this will effect the international market for organs.
        Usually you have to go there, or the donor has to come here.

        That's not strictly true. The donor only has to be shipped to Mexico, say, for their organs to be used in the USA. So the "donors" can be shipped to a place with a low value on human life (the reasons for this reduced valuation are another conversation) and broken down for parts there.

  • by Valacosa (863657)

    Maybe I fail at reading this late, but TFA didn't say what was in the stuff. Is this cocktail made of proteins? Inorganic compounds? "21 chemicals" sounds like "11 herbs and spices": marketing speak which doesn't actually say very much.

    Also, I couldn't help but notice this:

    o better understand if and how Somah preserved a heart, Thatte and his group harvested two female pig hearts and placed them in two different containers.

    Why would the gender of the heart donors matter?

    • by pclminion (145572) on Friday May 14, 2010 @11:58PM (#32217300)

      Why would the gender of the heart donors matter?

      The question is, why wouldn't it? Do you know? I don't. Are you saying scientists should be less observant, record fewer details, ignore more facts? You might as well ask "Why bother mentioning that they were pig hearts, what would it matter?"

      Are you offended at the obvious sexism inherent in the selection of two female pig hearts? Bothered by the fact that reality may not be politically correct?

      • by trapnest (1608791)
        How is that sexism?
      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Because Miss Piggy spent all her time thinking of Kermit?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Valacosa (863657)

        Wow, way to read into my post, dude.

        Something most Slashdotters probably know is that science journalism is very derivative. Since a lot of journalists don't know squat about science, most of them just end up regurgitating stuff. Sometimes random irrelevant facts are added, sometimes important information is stripped out. Mentioning that both hearts are from sows without mentioning why seems strange. There could be a reason why, or it could have just been an extraneous fact that was included..

        Now, the sente

        • by VoidCrow (836595)

          I'm speaking from imperfect memory, but, if you google 'grender-specific drug reactions', you'll find that differences in male/female metabolism are a concern. I remember that a decade or so ago it was discovered that certain widespread pain-killers were almost ineffective in women. The drug testing had been carried out only on male subjects, assuming that gender would have no difference on the outcome. I could look up references, but do your own research.

        • by GNious (953874)

          [...]Thanks for making gross, incorrect assumptions about me, though.

          You must be new here

          (sorry)

      • Men have bigger hearts... just physically, not metaphorically.
        There's a physical difference between male and female hearts, so they had to choose one or the other for consistency. It's probably interesting for some scientist or pig farmer somewhere to know which they chose.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zebai (979227)

      I would imagine commercial interests? They may want to keep such things hidden from other research teams until they are themselves published or secured patents?

      One can also never rule out intentional hype prior to proven facts. Like this liquid i have here with 500 compounds in it, I neglect to mention all the rocks and dirt i just threw into a glass of water.

    • Here's what's in it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Yergle143 (848772) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:47AM (#32217520)

      From the paper it's a modification of something called GALA solution.
      Compenent mmol/L g/L
      Distilled water, L 1.00
      Calcium chloride 1.30 0.191
      Potassium chloride 7.00 0.522
      Potassium phosphate (monobasic) 0.44 0.060
      Magnesium chloride (hexahydrate) 0.50 0.101
      Magnesium sulfate (heptahydrate) 0.50 0.123
      Sodium chloride 125.00 7.31
      Sodium bicarbonate 5.00 0.420
      Sodium phosphate (dibasic; heptahydrate) 0.19 0.05
      d-Glucose 11.00 1.982
      Glutathione (reduced) 1.50 0.461
      Ascorbic acid 1.00 0.176
      l-Arginine 5.00 1.073
      l-Citrulline malate 1.00 0.175
      Adenosine 2.00 0.534
      Creatine orotate 0.50 0.274
      Creatine monohydrate 2.00 0.298
      l-Carnosine 10.00 2.26
      l-Carnitine 10.00 2.00
      Dichloroacetate 0.50 0.075
      Insulin 10 mg/mL, mL/L 1.00
      pH is adjusted to 7.5 with sodium bicarbonate or Tris-hydroxymethyl aminomethane at desired temperature.

      Bunch of salts.
      These aren't complex proteinaceous molecules. I am interested in the presence of dichloroacetate because that was the anti-cancer molecule reported
      by slashdot just yesterday.
      http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/05/13/2117203 [slashdot.org]

      Now all you hackers planning to preserve human hearts don't you use this formula without citing the good Doctor Thatte.
      Please mod me up for my chemical knowhow

      • Asking for the Karma kind of cheapens it...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        A bunch of salts... and amino acids, a sugar, a tripeptide, a full on protein, a nucleotide precursor, and organic acid. Not to mention a specific pH and temperature. I suggest improving your chemical know-how before karma whoring. As well all know, karma is a bitch.
        • by Yergle143 (848772) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @02:57AM (#32217992)

          Gosh, so sorry. Please please forgive me. It's just that whenever I don't have to assign the resonance frequencies of 5200 atoms in a molecule that wants to crash out if you look at it wrong I consider the molecule somewhat simple. 1200 MW to me is something you can leave on the shelf. If you notice the parent asked about proteins and so I too went in to see if there was some kinase, antibody, polymeric polyprotein, siRNA etc. that was the "secret". Obviously not. This mix is pretty complicated but it's basically a buffered media; far less complicated than that being used to grow mammalian cell culture on the lab bench next to mine. I hope this ends up doing a lot of good. I love simple things. I wish that the answer to cancer was something as completely trivial as dichloroacetate. And it is noticing that constituent in this solution and remembering the /. story yesterday I thought I might bring it to everyone's attention. So please forgive me. I promise that with the Karma for which I've long labored I will henceforth act responsibly. Meanwhile I'm kind of busy so if you could dive into the literature and find out for me if the presence of dichloroacetate is causing the heart tissue in question to switch from glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation I would be very interested. Cheers.

          • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @04:05AM (#32218186)
            Another NMR guy? What are you working on? I share your pain - did way too much work on PrP for my own sanity, while I was still in academia. Not much fun when 95% precipitates during one experiment... Anyway, you are right, that medium is actually astonishing simple. As for the dichloroacetate, it usually stimulates the PDC, so it should stimulate the aerobic metabolism. It has been shown to protect tissue against ischemic damage (Peeling, et al. Protective effect of dichloroacetate in a rat model of forebrain ischemia. Neuroscience Letters. 1996; 208: 21-24) - so I guess this is its main role in keeping the heart alive in this setup.
            • by Yergle143 (848772)

              Integrins. Thanks for the link. That's a pretty intriguing chemical and the possible correlation between mitochondrial metabolism, cancer and apoptosis is what is so interesting to me tonight. Also I'm wondering about NO. Some things in the mix to maybe lower it. Cheers

            • Hey chemgeeks! Get your own Slashdot! ;)

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by timothy (36799) * Works for Slashdot

        Distilled water, Calcium chloride, Potassium chloride, Potassium phosphate (monobasic), Magnesium chloride (hexahydrate), Magnesium sulfate, (heptahydrate), Sodium chloride, Sodium bicarbonate, Sodium phosphate, (dibasic; heptahydrate), d-Glucose, Glutathione (reduced), Ascorbic acid, l-Arginine, l-Citrulline malate, Adenosine, Creatine orotate, Creatine monohydrate, l-Carnosine, l-Carnitine, Dichloroacetate, Insulin ...

        You forgot crushed red pepper, and dill.

        • He also left out Sodium benzoate, and the usual allergy warnings; "Lab nut free, however cannot guarantee nut free", etc.

      • From the paper it's a modification of something called GALA solution.

        Sounds awful.

        I'd suggest they add garlic, and serve alongside a puree made with celeriac and apple. Or if they insist on using the feet as well, something like juniper berries might work.

      • by Valacosa (863657)

        Thanks! That was exactly what I was looking for.

        About the GALA solution, I saw that mentioned on this page [harvard.edu] -- an unrelated story, but it mentioned Helmant Thatte. Apparently GALA is also his work. You could probably find a link to a research paper from his profile page [harvard.edu] about it.

      • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Saturday May 15, 2010 @03:31AM (#32218090) Homepage

        So... how many people are going to be hospitalized with poisoning symptoms after mixing large quantities of this in the hopes of drinking the elixir of immortality?

        • by RockWolf (806901)

          So... how many people are going to be hospitalized with poisoning symptoms after mixing large quantities of this in the hopes of drinking the elixir of immortality?

          Hopefully at least one.

      • Uh... that reads like the ingredients list of instant noodles. Yuck!

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      Great. What's in it?

      Neck juice [wikia.com], you insensitive clod.

    • Why would the gender of the heart donors matter?

      It may or it may not. But if you state it, other scientists can later choose to run a control to see if it does make a difference.

      The reason is probably something tediously prosaic - like female pigs past their peak breeding age are cheaper, or they just happened to have sows in stock for some other experiment.

    • by sjames (1099)

      sounds like "11 herbs and spices": marketing speak which doesn't actually say very much.

      Heart safe fried chicken at last!

  • First it's "inconceivable" that Acer will announce anything other than netbook, as their device for ChromeOS.

    Now...this...

    Science fiction is fraught with mad scientists who discover strange chemicals that can empower the human body or even reanimate the dead. Well, Harvard has come about as close to that scenario as anyone would want them to.

    We're nowhere near close, even with the cocktail from TFA. We should strive to be able of calmly taking a body involved in an accident (assuming neural system is almost undamaged), at first mostly to preserve it in appropriate state; repairing it (no rush) and "reanimating" at the end. Heck, why something so simple as decapitation or even total blood loss should be fatal?

    As a benchmark,

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by shaitand (626655)

      "As a benchmark, we should strive towards the ability to reconstruct hot chicks only from part of their arm! ;)"

      I'm with you. They have two arms, so you could potentially end up with two hot chicks!

    • by Protoslo (752870)
      This sounds like a pretty tremendous advance, though it may apply just to the heart, which is unique among commonly transplanted organs in being a muscle. TFA is (predictably) not very clear on that issue.

      For my part, we will be "as close to [reanimation] as anyone would want" when we have advanced far beyond "reconstructing hot chicks from only part of their arm." That would only be cloning; screw that, we will certainly be there within a few decades. If we could reanimate (recently) brain-dead peopl
    • But we need to make sure that if the new hot chick wants to travel, they have a pass that suits multiple purposes.

      Like some sort of Multi-pass.

  • SO! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:00AM (#32217308)

    How does this affect bacon?

    Because that's what's really important.

    Bacon.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They've got me strawberry tart!

  • by sharkey (16670) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:37AM (#32217482)
    The chicken heart was kept alive, in a laboratory in a vat. Special solution: half blood, half sodium-salycilate.
  • by physburn (1095481) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:50AM (#32217534) Homepage Journal
    Reanimator [imdb.com],
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (Score:4, Interesting)

    by harley78 (746436) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @12:55AM (#32217554)
    Along with research done by Mark Roth with H2S, this could save lots of people.
    • Re:Hydrogen Sulfide (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @06:41AM (#32218690)

      Along with research done by Mark Roth with H2S, this could save lots of people.

      What's with the mods today? What exactly is redundant about this? Mark Roth [fhcrc.org] is working about suspended animation using controlled oxygen depletion with H2S and CO, work which has shown quite some promise in various animal models. Interesting stuff that is completely on topic. The main problem with suspended animation, be it of whole organisms or of tissues, is oxygen damage. Mark Roth depletes the oxygen in a controlled manner, the work cited in TFA is based on adding dichloroacetate, which has been shown to prevent ischemic damage in tissue. Not sure how the two would complement each other, as I am not much of a metabolism guy. Anyway, someone mod up the parent, that downmod is undeserved.

  • So why care for these petty obsessions? Your designer heart still beats with common blood! And what if you could have genetic perfection, Would you change who you are, if you could? (Buying Zydrate from an unlicensed source is illegal)
  • I always told everyone Crank 2 was based on factual events.
  • by cbreak (1575875)
    Every time I hear about medical advances, new operations, transplantation, and get all those images into my head, I am happy that I went into computer science... And lose my appetite for a few hours.
  • So, one PHB says to another PHB, "Cocktails anyone?".
  • Oh my god they've actually done it. Quick, call the number stenciled on the side of the tank!

  • sig added for the convenience of the slashdot preview filter

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