Science News

Artificial Lung Could Buy you Breathing Space

Sat, 3rd Aug 2002

Part of the show How Acupuncture Works

Developers at MC3 of Ann Arbor, Michigan US, have developed an implantable artificial lung that could buy patients with serious chest diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and emphysema, breathing space whilst waiting for a lung transplant. Named the Biolung, the device is the size of a can of beer. It is inserted into the chest and plumbed into the heart so that blood from the pulmonary artery, which supplies the lungs, is forced through a fine series of porous tubes inside the device, allowing oxygen and carbon dioxide to be exchanged with the blood. The freshened-up blood is then returned to the circulation and pumped around the body. This is a far cry from the large electrically powered machines that sit outside the body currently used to oxygenate blood and remove carbon dioxide. The new biolung has so far been tested successfully on sheep and could make it into clinical trials as early as next year.

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