Electric field keeps kidney cells powered up while organs are on ice

Organs soon run out of energy while they are between donor and recipient, but an electric field could keep them running and improve survival

Electricity can help keep biological tissues functioning while stored in ice, a finding that could help boost the number of successful kidney transplants.

The approach seems effective in mice given transplants and in human kidneys stored for 24 hours – although it hasn’t yet been tried on organs put inside people.

It could be used on other transplanted organs and even tissues inside the body with low blood supply, says Ruisheng Liu at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “There are lots of possibilities.”