The long-term goal of this technology development project is to improve rehabilitation from lung disease through the development of the first truly portable, biocompatible, artificial lung capable of short and long term respiratory support. Current artificial lungs have recently been used to rehabilitate lung disease patients; however, significant advances in gas exchange, biocompatibility, and portability are required to fully realize their potential. Microfluidic artificial lungs promise to enable a new class of truly portable artificial lungs through feature sizes and blood channel designs that closely mimic those found in their natural counterpart. The objectives of the current R01 proposal, which seeks to propel our microfluidic artificial lung toward initial human applications, are to: 1) develop a roll-to-roll manufacturing system capable of producing the first human-scale microfluidic artificial lungs; 2) optimize the performance and biocompatibility of human-scale microfluidic artificial lungs; and, 3) test a human-scale microfluidic artificial lung in acute and chronic animal studies. These objectives are critical to advancing this promising technology toward initial acute systems for pulmonary rehabilitation.
Up to 24 million Americans are living with chronic lung disease; it is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is responsible for more than 150,000 deaths each year. Acute respiratory distress syndrome has a mortality rate between 30 and 50% and affects 200,000 Americans each year. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects 5% of American adults. This project has the potential to revolutionize the rehabilitation of patients suffering from lung disease through the development of a truly portable, biocompatible, artificial lung.