McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty member William J. Federspiel, PhD (pictured), the University of Pittsburgh's William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Chemical Engineering, Surgery and Bioengineering, and Director of the McGowan Institute’s Medical Devices Laboratory, oversees 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. Dr. Federspiel is also a Founder of ALung Technologies, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based medical start-up company, for which he currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer. ALung is the leading developer of a device—the Hemolung System—designed to replace or supplement ventilators in hospitals.
ALung recently announced that it will soon begin its Indian and German clinical trials on the company's Hemolung System which is expected to positively impact clinical outcomes and reduce the length of hospital stays by several days, resulting in a significant reduction of total medical costs for providers and insurers. The trials expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2009 involve 5 patients in India and 20 patients in Germany.
The Hemolung System is designed to remove carbon dioxide and deliver oxygen directly to the patient's blood via a small catheter, inserted into the jugular or femoral vein, similar to acute kidney dialysis. This treatment is expected to provide a significant benefit over intubation and mechanical ventilation, in that it will allow the patient to talk and eat, and avoid sedation, while giving the lungs the opportunity to heal.
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.
Currently 450,000 patients in the U.S. are ventilated each year for temporary, acute, or acute-on-chronic respiratory failure. It is anticipated that the clinical trials will demonstrate that the Hemolung System can replace or supplement this form of ventilation. With intensive care unit (ICU) care estimated at $5-7,000 per day, Hemolung is expected to reduce hospital costs through its ability to reduce ICU length of stay. Further cost savings are expected to be realized through the elimination of sedation costs and a reduction in adverse outcomes such as ventilator acquired pneumonia (VAP) - estimated at greater than $125,000 per incident. VAP represents the most common and deadly hospital acquired condition with approximately 25 percent of all ventilator patients developing the condition.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
PR Newswire (10/06/09)
Keystone Edge (10/08/09)
ALung Technologies, Inc.: Hemolung System
Bio: Dr. William Federspiel