A group of researchers at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science have successfully developed the first functional vascularised lung scaffold, and it could dramatically change how lung disease is treated.
Most bioengineered lungs are built using scaffolds constructed from completely decellularised lungs.
Unlike those scaffolds, this project keeps the vascular network of the original lung intact while removing defective epithelial lining and replacing it with healthy cells.
To test the process, a set of rodent lungs was cannulated before being ventilated and perfused on an ex vivo perfusion system. The only way to treat end-stage lung disease effectively is via a transplant, and donor lungs are in short supply.
Only 20 percent of potential donor lungs are actually suitable for the transplant procedure, which leads to many patients succumbing to the condition while on the donor waiting list.
“Strategies aimed at increasing the number of transplantable lungs would have an immediate and profound impact,” explained Matthew Bacchetta, an associate processor of surgery at Columbia and a co-author on the paper.