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A U.S. journal has published the results of a research project from the CIMA which may improve liver surgery and transplantation

The discoveries, protected by a patent belonging to the CIMA, have appeared in "The Journal of Experimental Medicine"

Descripcion de la imagen
From left to right, Matilde Bustos, Matías Ávila, Carmen Berasain, Eduardo Martínez-Ansó, María Íñiguez and Jesús Prieto. FOTO: Manuel Castells
22/01/07 13:01

The Journal of Experimental Medicine, a U.S. scientific journal with an important impact in international biomedical circles, has just published an article describing research undertaken at the University of Navarra. The article describes the discoveries of a team of specialists at the University Hospital and the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA). This team has discovered that the liver produces a substance named cardiotrophin-1 when it suffers stress or damage; for instance, when the blood flow is interrupted. The scientists have demonstrated the powerful protective action that cardiotrophin-1 has on the liver: when it is administered to animals, the organ remains protected and can survive a prolonged interruption of blood flow without suffering damage.

Dr. Jesús Prieto -the project's director- envisions numerous possible uses of these discoveries in medical practice. Among the possible applications is the treatment with cardiotrophin-1 of patients who are going to undergo liver transplant or a partial resection of the liver, so that the organ will be protected during the surgery and thereby improve the patient's outcome. "The administration of cardiotrophin-1 prior to an operation will permit performing more extensive liver resections than are currently practiced, and, therefore, we can undertake surgery in patients with tumors that currently cannot be eliminated due to their extension in the liver."

More organs for transplants and fewer risks for donors

Cardiotrophin-1 may also reduce the risks of postoperative complications in live-donor transplants. "In transplants from cadavers, this treatment will make it possible to conserve the organ in a good condition for longer periods of time. In addition, it will permit the use of non-optimal livers which, because they are highly susceptible to damage during the surgery, are currently not usable for transplants. All of this will lead to an increase in the availability of organs for those patients who need a new liver," asserted Dr. Jesús Prieto.

Scientists from other countries have demonstrated some time ago that cardiotrophin-1 is a cytokyne produced by heart cells. The studies performed at the CIMA of the University of Navarra show that this substance is also produced in the liver, where it exercises powerful protective effects. The authors of this scientific article are Drs. María Iñiguez, Carmen Berasain, Eduardo Martínez-Ansó, Matilde Bustos, Diane Pennica (in California) and the directors of the research team, Matías ávila and Jesús Prieto. In 2006 the European Drug Agency approved this patent from the CIMA as an orphan drug. Digna Biotech, the biotechnology firm that develops the discoveries of the CIMA, has the patent for the use of cardiotrophin-1 in liver diseases. In the near future clinical trials will begin on the use of this substance in patients undergoing surgery.