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Artificial Lung

While mechanical ventilators can help people with breathing for a short time, they sometimes cause lung damage.

The McGowan Institute is working on new devices that help oxygenate blood before it gets to the lungs.

Hemolung® RAS

William Federspiel, PhD, and the late Brack Hattler, MD, of the McGowan Institute created the Hemolung technology now licensed by ALung Technologies.

Commercial operations began in 2001 with work focusing on advancing Dr. Hattler’s intravenous oxygenator known as the Hattler Catheter®.

Development of the Hemolung RAS — a dialysis-like alternative or supplement to mechanical ventilation — began in 2005. Human clinical trials began in 2010. The device received CE-mark approval in 2013.

In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ALung’s investigational device exemption (IDE) of the Hemolung RAS.

The FDA’s approval of the IDE:

  • Allows ALung to conduct a clinical trial of the Hemolung RAS to treat adults with sudden worsening of COPD symptoms.
  • Makes ALung’s VENT-AVOID trial the first key study of extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal (ECCO2R) for treating people with severe COPD exacerbations.

The Hemolung is for short-term use, and its current form often confines patients to the hospital or home.

Pediatric Ambulatory Lung

The Pediatric Device Initiative (PDI), managed by Patrick Cantini, looks to bring novel pediatric technologies to market quickly.

McGowan Institute and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC researchers aim to transform the status of an underserved pediatric population. Recent advances in treating tissue and organ failure allow us to help these sick children.

In 2017, efforts moved forward on the Pediatric Ambulatory Lung Project led by McGowan Institute researchers:

Pittsburgh Pediatric Ambulatory Lung (P-PAL)

The P-PAL is a wearable, integrated blood pump and gas exchange device intended to give children long-term (1-3 months) respiratory support. P-PAL’s high gas exchange efficiency and compact design allow for paracorporeal use and patient mobility while in the hospital.

Those suffering from lung failure have few options. After a child gets on the organ transplant wait list, it can take months to receive a lung transplant.

While children wait for a new lung, they're often:

  • Confined to the hospital bed.
  • Sedated.
  • Hooked up to large and costly heart-lung machines that function to replace their damaged lungs.

The proposed new P-PAL takes less blood out of patients to fill the tubing and the device.

This one device could help three types of patients:

  • Children who need a high-flow oxygen device.
  • Adults who need a low-flow CO2 removal device.
  • Adults who need a higher-flow oxygen device.

Illustrations: McGowan Institute Medical Device Laboratory.

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