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.