The McGowan Institute is one of the major regenerative medicine labs in the U.S. working on artificial lungs. Brack G. Hattler, MD, PhD, Professor of Surgery and Executive Director of the Medical Devices Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh, and William J. Federspiel, PhD, the University’s William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Chemical Engineering, Surgery and Bioengineering, and Director of the Medical Devices Laboratory, oversee current laboratory research that is tackling fundamental problems associated with making artificial lungs more efficient and biocompatible, and is developing next generation artificial lungs or blood oxygenators.
The team at the University of Pittsburgh’s lab is developing an internal catheter to serve as a partial assist device providing 50% to 60% of blood oxygenation and carbon dioxide removal. The Hattler Catheter was successful in animal testing and requires surgical insertion. Clinicians have requested that it be small enough to be threaded into a vein in a nonsurgical procedure, hence delaying clinical trials. Per Dr. Hattler, the science necessary for nonsurgical implanting is still some years away.
In the meantime, a 6-month clinical trial could begin early in 2008 on a lung in which the catheter only transports blood, and the oxygenation takes place in an external, spinning pump. The Hemolung consists of a small cylindrical oxygenator that is approximately 4 inches in diameter. A cylindrical bundle of micro-porous hollow fiber membranes woven into a mat is wrapped in multiple layers around a central core. Oxygen flows through the hollow fiber membranes, while blood is circulated though the hollow fiber bundle. The core is spun at approximately 1000 RPM, dramatically enhancing gas exchange, as well as serving as a pump to move the blood through the external circuit. Hope is that the FDA will approve it quickly, for patient use by the end of 2008.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Los Angeles Times (09/24/07)
West Michigan Science & Technology Initiative (09/24/07)
Orlando Sentinel (09/24/07)
Medical Devices Laboratory
ALung Technologies, Inc.