YPT of the season - Autumn 2015: Karl Hillebrandt

You can definitely call the new YPT of the season a "Rising Star"! 
Karl Hillebrandt from Berlin, Germany, is the winner of the Rising Stars Video Session organised by the YPT Committee at the ESOT2015 Brussels Congress.
His abstract "Optimized decellularization of rat livers byarterial and portal venous perfusion underoscillating pressure conditions" and the accompanying video were the most voted at the Rising Stars Session, where the audience voted live for the best video abstract. You can read Karl's abstract in the special ESOT2015 issue of Transplant International.

- Please tell us about yourself and your current post.
I am a medical student at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, working on my doctoral thesis.

- Please summarise your research topic for us in no more than two sentences.
Because of the organ shortage there is a need for alternative treatment strategies. The concept of decellularization and recellularization of parchenymatous organs, in my case the liver, will maybe offer a new treatment in the future.

- What discoveries have you made during the course of your research?
We developed an optimized decellularization technique for porcine livers by applying oscillating pressure conditions and perfusion via hepatic artery and portal vein.

- What do you see as the future for this area of research?
I hope that we will solve the current problems in our field – e.g. the cell source, cell distribution within the decellelularized matrix and the in vivo long-term function of the grafts.  In ten years time it may be common practice to recellularise liver matrix of porcine origin with human cells – ideally from the patient in need for liver transplantation. After recellularisation and maturation of these organs transplantation can be scheduled and performed under optimal conditions. There is no waiting list for organs anymore. The need for immunosuppression with all its unwanted effects is dramatically reduced. Consequently, the indication for organ transplantation can be extended.

- What have you found is the most rewarding aspect of your research?
Since I have started my research I had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people and take part at many congresses. Something really rewarding is to see the evolution of our research field and to be part of this development.
Another incentive is the hope that maybe one day we can transfer our research into a clinical setting to help patients.

- Who has inspired you in transplantation?
I was always fascinated by the idea of transplantation. The possibility to take an organ from a donor and transplant it into a total different body where it is still working is just amazing.
When I started my research I was inspired by my two mentors, Igor Sauer and Benjamin Strücker. They introduced me to the field of transplantation from the clinical as well as from the experimental point of view and which problems should be solved in future.

- What do you do outside of work?
Outside of work I am spending my time playing squash with friends. Furthermore, I am a big fan and collector of vinyls that’s why I am spending a lot of time hunting for and listening to vinyls.

- References
- Porcine liver decellularization under oscillating pressure conditions - A technical refinement to improve the homogeneity of the decellularization process. Struecker B*, Hillebrandt KH*, Voitl R, Butter A, Schmuck RB, Reutzel-Selke A, Geisel D, Joehrens K, Pickerodt PA, Raschzok N, Puhl G, Neuhaus P, Pratschke J, Sauer IM. Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2014 Aug 27.
* both authors contributed equally to this work
- Procedure for Decellularization of Rat Livers in an Oscillating-Pressure Perfusion Device. Hillebrandt K, Polenz D, Butter A, Tang P, Reutzel-Selke A, Andreou A, Napierala H, Raschzok N, Pratschke J, Sauer IM, Struecker B.. J. Vis. Exp. (102), e53029,(2015).