A method for preserving donor joint tissue has been developed by researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine.

The technology, called the Missouri Osteochondral Allograft Preservation System (MOPS), more than doubles the storage life of bone and cartilage grafts from donors compared with the preservation method currently used by tissue banks.

Grafting living tissue onto joints which have experienced trauma, but are otherwise healthy, gives patients a better chance of returning to previous levels of activity than metal or plastic implants. However, over 80% of donated tissue is currently discarded because it does not survive long enough to be transplanted. When tissue is donated, time is of the essence, as medical staff must ensure it is safe to use, identify an appropriate recipient, schedule surgery, and transport the graft to the surgeon.

In standard practice, donated tissues are refrigerated within medial-grade units in sealed bags, filled with a standard preservation solution. In their MOPS study, the researchers instead used a new preservation solution and specially designed containers that allowed the tissues to be stored at room temperature instead.

"It’s a game-changer," said James Stannard, co-author of the study and J Vernon Luck Sr. distinguished professor of orthopaedic surgery at the MU School of Medicine. "The benefit to patients is that more graft material will be available and it will be of better quality. This will allow us, as surgeons, to provide a more natural joint repair option for our patients."