P-PAL Device Offers Hope for Kids with CF, Others Awaiting Lung Transplants

P-PAL Device Offers Hope for Kids with CF, Others Awaiting Lung Transplants

Pittsburgh researchers are building a device for children with lung failure that will replace traditional oxygenation methods while waiting for a transplant.

The Pittsburgh Pediatric Ambulatory Lung (P-PAL), being developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aims to safely bridge the time between diagnosis and transplant while allowing patient mobility.

Acute and chronic lung diseases are the most life-threatening causes of hospitalization for young children, particularly for those with cystic fibrosis (CF). They often have to wait months for a lung transplant, and this requires lengthy hospital stays because of the need for large mechanical ventilators.

With P-PAL, kids can remain mobile even while under hospitalization.

“Standard existing therapy not only restricts children’s mobility in the hospital but can also cause lung damage and/or worsening of the child’s health,” said William J. Federspiel, program director and principal investigator. “Our new approach allows the patient’s lungs to rest and heal, and if the child is a candidate for lung transplantation, the mobility afforded by the P-PAL will lead to better post-transplant outcomes.”

The proposal, “Ambulatory Assist Lung for Children,” has received a $2.35 million, four-year-grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a unit of the NIH.

Also on the team with Federspiel is co-principal investigator William R. Wagner, both of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and other members of the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.

“Pediatric patients can still be active children, and at young ages you don’t want to restrict them to a hospital bed,” Wagner said in a press release. “The P-PAL is a self-contained, minimally invasive device that can provide children with mobility even while awaiting a transplant.”

Among the project’s specific goals: adapting P-PAL’s design and operational parameters to meet requirements for blood pumping, gas exchange, priming volume and form factor; building prototypes for bench characterization studies; improving P-PAL’s hemocompatibility; and performing preclinical studies to demonstrate how P-PAL performs in vivo and to study its interaction with the heart and lungs.


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