LUNG IMPLANT: A STEP TOWARD ARTIFICIAL LUNG There is no technology available to support failing lung function for patients outside the hospital. An implantable lung assist device would complement lung function as a bridge to transplant or possible destination therapy.
Advanced lung disease is characterised by an inability to remove carbon dioxide from the blood and reduced oxygen uptake efficiency. A shortage of donors can mean long delays and high mortality rates for those awaiting a transplant.
A device that achieves carbon dioxide/oxygen gas exchange could allow patients more freedom when awaiting a lung transplant.
Now, Joseph Vacanti and coworkers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, have developed a device that achieves the CO2/O2 gas exchange that, when implanted in the body, could allow patients more freedom when awaiting a transplant. Their design is a microfluidic branched vascular network through which blood flows, separated from a gas-filled chamber by a silicone membrane less than 10um thick.
A major challenge faced by Vacanti's team was achieving a blood pressure within the device's channels similar to that in veins and arteries. They applied computational fluid dynamics to optimise the vascular network's structure to avoid clotting induced by excessive blood pressure.