BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Experts from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University are looking to extend the time that it takes for the heart, lungs, and liver to deteriorate outside the body during a transplant. That’s according to our media partners at The Baltimore Sun.

The effort could transform the science of transplantation.

Usually, organs last as little as two hours and as long as 36 hours once they are removed from the body. The researchers’ approach involves better managing the environment body parts are stored and transported in to possibly extend the window to 72 hours or longer.

The project is being funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command through a three-year $1.5 million grant. The U.S. military often pays for medical research that can benefit service members and veterans.

The researchers hope to develop a working prototype of what they call a bioreactor in five years.

Their plan begins with the same nutrient-infused solution used to preserve an organ in a container once it’s taken from the body. The container is then chilled on ice for transport. Now, researchers are developing a sensor array to monitor the solution for levels of nitric oxide, lactic acid, glucose, and free radicals that indicate deterioration of the organs. The solution could then be tweaked to reduce or slow the body parts’ degradation.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, there are more than 116,500 people on the organ transplant waiting list.

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