Carnegie Mellon University

Transforming Transplant: A Collaboration on Organ Transplant Innovation

Organ transplantation is one of the greatest achievements in the history of medicine, and enormous progress has been made in improving organ transplant outcomes over the last three decades. Short-and long-term clinical results are excellent, leading to reduced morbidity and mortality and improved quality of life when compared with patients who cannot receive a new organ. Unfortunately, there is an immense shortage in the number of donated organs available to those with chronic organ failure.

To address this need, CMU and Mayo Clinic will collaborate to accelerate the translation of biomedical discovery to clinical practice. The intent is to address the shortcomings of today’s organ transplant clinical practice using biomedical engineering solutions to better serve the patients. Ultimately, the goal is to turn validated science into clinical options for patients with organ dysfunction or failure who are in critical need of organ transplantation.

CMU and Mayo Clinic faculty are thus coupling Mayo Clinic’s clinical and medical science with CMU’s biomedical engineering expertise to develop solutions that address the problems of organ failure and organ shortage. Our goals are to:
  1. Develop methods for engineering new organs, using new stem cell, bioprinting, and tissue scaffolding technologies.
  2. Restore the function of donated organs that are currently considered unusable.
  3. Delay or prevent chronic graft failure in patients who have previously received organ transplants.
  4. Diagnose organ dysfunction at earlier stages of the disease process and develop therapeutic interventions to prevent end-stage organ failure.

Mayo Clinic is nationally recognized organ transplant programs have been providing high-quality patient care for over 50 years. Across three major campuses in Florida, Minnesota, and Arizona, Mayo Clinic is currently the largest organ transplant provider in the United States. At all campuses, there are also established regenerative medicine programs with advanced infrastructure in biomanufacturing and broad expertise in regenerative medicine products including induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). This leads to a unique environment of collaboration between transplant clinicians and regenerative medicine scientists. This enables scientific discoveries to be efficiently translated into its patient-centered, progressive transplant practice. This connection, in turn, will accelerate innovative approaches for organ dysfunction, failure and transplantation spectrum.

CMU Biomedical Engineering has established strengths in tissue engineering, particularly 3D biofabrication and bioprinting; extracellular vesicle engineering; computational organ modeling and design; extracellular matrix biology and engineering; biomaterials; stem cell engineering; cellular biomechanics; and translational organs testing. All of these areas are housed under CMU’s Bioengineered Organs Initiative. Leveraging this expertise, CMU is using the classroom and laboratory to develop the future workforce that can innovate, commercialize, and manufacture new organ designs and fabrication methods.

The Transforming Transplant Initiative will bring the complementary expertise of the two institutions together to accelerate innovation in the organ replacement domain. Our ultimate goals are to (i) reverse the current imbalance between patients waiting for organ transplants and available transplantable organs; (ii) significantly decrease the number of patients with organ dysfunction/failure; and (iii) eliminate organ wait times for those patients with organ failure.

To this end, four working groups have developed an initial set of collaborative research projects. These working groups focused on four main areas of investigation:

  1. Organ and tissue biofabrication
  2. Restoration of previously unusable donated organs
  3. Prevention and diagnosis of transplanted organ dysfunction using sensors
  4. Prevention and diagnosis of transplanted organ dysfunction using artificial intelligence

For more information regarding Transforming Transplant, including how to contribute to this effort, please contact either the CMU Department of Biomedical Engineering or Mayo Clinic Florida Transplant Center.