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University of Pittsburgh scientist discusses blood cell damage from biomedical devices

ANTALYA, Turkey, Sept. 26 While biomedical devices such as prosthetic heart valves, heart-assist devices, oxygenators, vascular grafts and hemodialysis systems can help to save or significantly extend lives, these same devices also can damage the blood cells which travel through them. Severe consequences can result when blood cells are damaged or broken down, said Marina Kameneva, Ph.D., research associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Dr. Kameneva will discuss the issue in a plenary lecture on "hemorheological aspects of flow induced blood trauma in artificial organs" on Sept. 26 during a joint meeting of the 11th International Congress of Biorheology and the 4th International Conference on Clinical Hemorheology in Antalya, Turkey. Rheology is the science of the deformation and flow of matter.

"Biomedical devices are widely used to repair or replace a number of cardiovascular system elements," said Dr. Kameneva, a scientist at the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine who is one of the few working worldwide whose research focuses on fluid dynamics and artificial blood products. "The successful functioning of these devices strongly depends on the way they disturb blood."

Previous studies of mechanical blood trauma have focused on the complete destruction of red blood cells, but even sub-lethal damage can have an effect, she noted. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that even minor mechanical damage may shorten the lifespan of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen throughout the body.

"Blood cell damage is a major obstacle in the development of a permanent artificial heart, which would help patients with end-stage heart disease to survive and live a normal life without the need of a donor heart transplant," Dr. Kameneva said.

In previous studies, scientists tagged rabbit red blood cells with a fluorescent marker, then subjected them to high-shear st
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Contact: Michele Baum
BaumMD@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
26-Sep-2002


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