U-M artificial lung showing promise, as need grows

rs, Ph.D. Pre-clinical studies are being done by Bartlett's team at UMHS, and a team led by Joseph Zwischenberger at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Northwestern engineers have contributed to the design.

In preparation for clinical trials, Haft led a survey of transplant program directors at some of the nation's largest lung transplant centers. The findings suggest widespread interest and anticipation, with the vast majority saying they'd want to participate, and a majority saying that animal trials of one month or less, in a few dozen animals, would be sufficient as final pre-clinical testing.

The respondents overwhelmingly said that patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a mysterious and deadly scarring of the lungs with no known cause, would be the best candidates for the first clinical trials. They typically have the highest waiting-list death rate, and their disease progresses rapidly without responding to therapy. A Phase I trial of less than 30 participants was considered reasonable, with a goal of bridging 60 percent of participants to transplant.

But because the lung transplant system currently allocates organs based only on waiting time, size of organ needed and blood type, a clinical trial of an artificial lung as a bridge to transplant would require a change to allocation policy for participants. The survey found support for this shift, which would prioritize transplants for those on the artificial lung, among 67 percent of transplant program directors. Still others voiced partial support.

Another potential use for the artificial lung would be in patients who receive a sub-optimal lung transplant, and need lung support after their transplant to determine if the new lung will function.


Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System

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