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A multi-disciplinary team of researchers in Oxford and Newcastle, led by Professor Rutger Ploeg from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, has been awarded a grant of £1.7 million from the Medical Research Council. The four-year grant will enable the expansion of the successful Quality in Organ Donation (QUOD) initiative, currently funded and supported by NHS Blood and Transplant.

QUOD concerns a national consortium, rolled out in 2014, to facilitate research on donor organ quality and how organs can be better utilized to increase the number of transplants in the United Kingdom. This unique national resource combines detailed clinical information from virtually all organ donors in the UK with a biobank of blood, urine, and tissue samples taken around the time of donation. Such a combination of data and samples has enabled research on the mechanisms of organ damage and repair, leading to better selection and optimisation of organs for successful transplantation.

Until now, QUOD has focused on kidney and liver donors, but the MRC grant will allow the QUOD biobank to collect samples for research from heart, lung, and pancreatic donors. Furthermore, the grant will allow QUOD to create scientific platforms including state-of-the-art pathology, genomics, proteomics, and imaging techniques to develop online searchable atlases, representing a spectrum of normal, stressed, and chronically diseased organs.

The science and technology platforms involve multidisciplinary teams of scientists, clinicians, and other health care professionals, including Professors James Shaw, John Dark, and Dina Tiniakos in Newcastle, and Professors Benedikt Kessler, Anna Gloyn, and Paul Johnson in Oxford.

This connection of high-quality clinical information, easily monitored samples, and newly identified biomarkers does not currently exist. The QUOD expansion will thus create invaluable tools for the scientific and clinical community. It will facilitate new understanding of the causes of organ stress, leading to new treatments to maximise transplant success but may also help to prevent or even reverse chronic diseases without the need for transplantation.

Ultimately, the QUOD expansion aims to further the overall QUOD mission: saving lives and cutting health care costs by increasing the pool of transplantable organs, thereby addressing the growing gap between supply and demand in organ transplantation.

Present and future QUOD resources benefit researchers in academia and industry across the country. For more information on QUOD, including how to access samples for research, please visit the QUOD website.

 

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