Wearable Artificial Lung Designed to Help Sick Children Remain Mobile While Hospitalized

Artificial lungs have long been used to help sick children until a lung transplant is available.

While these devices are helpful in supplying oxygen to children suffering from cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary fibrosis, among other diseases, during the wait for lung transplants, they restrict mobility.

“They are labor intensive, there is a lot of equipment involved and they essentially keep these kids bedridden,” said William Federspiel, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Department of Bioengineering.

At Pitt, Federspiel has been researching ways to create a more compact respiratory assistance device for children. The work has been fruitful, with the Pittsburgh Pediatric Ambulatory Lung aiming to serve as a bridge to transplantation or recovery in children with acute and chronic lung failure.
This wearable artificial lung, half the size of a coffee can, will be designed for longer-term respiratory support, about one to three months before device change-out. The device will supply between 70 and 90 percent of normal metabolic oxygenation requirements, while pumping blood from one to 2.5 liters per minute.

Perhaps most importantly though, the device will help pediatric patients get out of bed and engage in activity as soon as possible after an operation.

Studies have shown that ambulation during the waiting period for lung transplantation significantly improves post-transplant outcomes.

“Patients won’t be going home with the technology,” said Federspiel. “But it will allow them to move about in a hospital setting.”

An adult version of the lung is also in the works.

Federspiel said the next step for the artificial lung is to find ways to further translate the project toward clinical use.

“The number of pediatric patients is very small, and because the expense of going through the regulatory processes is a burden, it can be difficult to commercialize pediatric technologies like this,” he said.

The researchers are working with the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC’s Pediatric Device Initiative, in collaboration with sciVelo, to help advance the commercial translation.
“The idea is to be able to bring to patients in lung failure the technologies now available to patients in heart failure, to have technology that gives patients the quality of life where they’re able to be mobile and not be tethered in the intensive care unit. We’re trying to make these devices biocompatible, so they don’t form blood clots.”

The project was recently awarded a four-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
View the original article at Pittwire.Pitt.edu