Many lives worldwide are saved by organ transplants yearly. For an organ to be suitable for transplant the donor has to be biologically compatible with the patient, otherwise the transplant could cause an immune response and organ rejection. Because of the importance of a good match, often an organ has to be transported a long distance to reach the patient in need. Organs are usually transported coated in ice in order to slow down the biological processes and keep them fresh for transplant.
Seeking a solution to this problem they looked at antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGPs) which are a type of biological chemical with an antifreeze function which are found in deep sea Teleost fish. These molecules lower the freezing point of the organism and enable it to survive subzero temperatures common in its environment. Professor Ben’s team synthesized a functional carbon-linked (C-linked) AFGP analogue. When the C-AFGPs are applied to the tissue, it reduces the formation of harmful ice crystals.