McGowan Institute collaborators, Alan Russell and William Federspiel, have come up with a way of making artificial lungs more efficient, using an enzyme that helps to remove CO2 from the blood. The result, they hope, will be a smaller device that can be used in a wider range of patients.
The smaller units that Drs. Russell and Federspiel envisage could be used to treat a much wider range of conditions, such as temporary lung infection caused by emphysema or lung damage resulting from smoke inhalation. Currently, people with these conditions are put on a ventilator, but the pressure this exerts on the lungs can cause further damage by stretching the tissue.
"The more you can get the invasiveness down, the more applications for the device," Dr. Federspiel says.
Illustration: William Federspiel.
New Scientist (04/04/07)