McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty member William Federspiel, PhD, the William Kepler Whiteford professor of bioengineering, chemical engineering, and surgery, and director of the McGowan Institute’s Medical Devices Laboratory is also a co-founder of ALung Technologies, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based medical start-up company, for which he currently serves as the head of the scientific advisory board. ALung is developing the device—the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System—designed to replace or supplement ventilators in hospitals.
ALung reports that the third German Hemolung patient – the fifth world-wide – recovered well from acute lung exacerbation within 6 days on the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System and received a double-lung transplant 4 weeks later.
The Hemolung Respiratory Assist System removes carbon dioxide and delivers 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 provides 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.
Soon after starting treatment with the Hemolung System, the patient, Heinz-Dieter Hilgers (pictured left), began to breathe much more easily. His respiratory rate reduced from 35 40 breaths/min down to less than 10 breaths/min. Carbon dioxide removal by the Hemolung System was 110 ml/min at the beginning and reduced by 5-10 ml/min per day as the patient’s CO2 levels normalized. Frank Bonin, MD (pictured right), head of the intensive care unit, said, “The first day, we couldn’t interrupt the mask ventilation. By the third day, we could stop 3 4 times for up to 15 minutes at a time. By the fourth day, we could stop for 30-60 minutes, and on the fifth day, there was a pause of 16 hours.” The next day, Mr. Hilgers’ lung function had almost recovered, with an arterial carbon dioxide less than 50 mmHg, and the Hemolung therapy was stopped.
“I’m very excited about this result,” the physician said. “Using the Hemolung, we had a very quick recovery. The device is as simple as hemodialysis and was easily inserted – just the right choice for such an acute situation.”
A clinical feasibility trial is nearing completion in Germany. The Hemolung System is expected to be available for sale in Europe in the second half of 2011.
Illustration: Double lung transplant recipient Mr. Heinz-Dieter Hilgers (left) meets with his physician, Dr. Frank Bonin (head of the intensive care unit), at the Ruhrlandklinik in Essen, Germany. Mr. Hilgers was the fifth patient worldwide to be treated with the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System developed by ALung Technologies.
ALung Technologies, Inc. Press Release (03/22/11)
ALung Technologies, Inc.
Bio: Dr. William Federspiel