McGowan Institute Medical Device Technology Receives Gold Medical Design Excellence Award
ALung Technologies is a Pittsburgh-based medical start-up company which is the leading provider of low-flow extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal (ECCO2R) technologies for treating patients with acute respiratory failure. Founded in 1997 based on technology developed by McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine faculty members William Federspiel, PhD, W.K. Whiteford professor of bioengineering, chemical engineering, and critical care medicine, and the late Brack Hattler, MD, ALung has developed the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System (RAS) as a dialysis-like alternative or supplement to mechanical ventilation. ALung began commercial operations in 2001 with work focusing on the development of Dr. Hattler’s intravenous oxygenator known as the Hattler Catheter. Development of the Hemolung RAS began in 2005 and human clinical trials began in 2010. The device received CE-mark approval in 2013. (CE marking indicates the compliance with European Union (EU) legislation of a product.)
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine are proposing that if 3-D printers, or additive manufacturing, can produce custom replacement parts for machines, why couldn’t the same process create biodegradable tissue repair structures for the human body?
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Peter Wearden, MD, PhD, Surgical Director, Pediatric Heart and Lung Transplantation, and Director, Pediatric Mechanical Cardiopulmonary Support Program, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is the co-recipient of a National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute award under its Small Business Innovation Research Program. The project, “Small Blood Pumps for Small Patients,” was granted to VADovations, Inc., a small, Oklahoma-based start-up company working to build a miniature ventricular assist device (VAD), a mechanical blood pump, which is smaller and lighter than ones currently on the market. Trevor Snyder, PhD, vice president of research and development at VADovations, is the project principal investigator and a former Senior Biomedical Engineer at UPMC and Research Assistant at University of Pittsburgh, Department of Bioengineering.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded a total of $82,000 to six research groups through its 2013 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members—Alan Wells, MD, Anne Robertson, PhD, and Yadong Wang, PhD—were among three of the research groups receiving these awards.
Pioneering Initiative = Improved Standard of Care + Educational Success
On January 15, 2014, the UPMC Artificial Heart/Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program achieved a remarkable milestone: 100,000 cumulative days of circulatory support in 830 heart failure patients beginning in October 1985 through January 2014.
Pennsylvania’s First Minimally Invasive Heart Pump Implant
In 1985, UPMC surgeons implanted the nation’s second Jarvik Artificial Heart as a bridge-to-transplantation. In 1990, UPMC became the first medical center to discharge a patient on a ventricular assist device (VAD). Today, the UPMC team of cardiothoracic surgeons and clinical specialists continues to pioneer the use of mechanical circulatory support devices, treating more than 800 people, and making its Artificial Heart Program one of the most active program of its kind.
Regenerative Medicine Partnership with Cornell University
Scientists at McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine are partnering with innovators at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine to advance healing techniques and technologies for animals and humans.
Fighting infection post-surgery with an antibiotic gel, developing a meniscus implant for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) patients, and attacking skin cancer with a microneedle bandage were three of the latest four innovative medical technologies selected for funding through the Wallace H. Coulter Translational Research Partners II (TPII) Program (Coulter Program) this year at the University of Pittsburgh.
Recently, the efforts of several McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members were the subject of news highlighting their most recent endeavors, achievements, and honors. Congratulations are extended to each of them. A brief summary of them (in alphabetical order) and their accomplishments follows:
In a paper presented at the American Transplant Congress, Seattle, WA (May 20, 2013), McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Paulo Fontes, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, described the ground breaking results from a study conducted by a multidisciplinary team who designed and assessed the effectiveness of a system to oxygenate harvested livers with a perfusion system so that the condition of the liver can be maintained for an extended period before implantation.
First “Breathing Lung” Transplant on East Coast Using OCS Lung Performed
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Christian Bermudez, MD, UPMC’s chief of cardiothoracic transplantation and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is the principal investigator of a study where UPMC surgeons performed a “breathing lung” transplant using a portable machine that provides a constant supply of blood and nutrients to the donor organs. Doctors say this has the potential to keep donor lungs healthier and viable for longer than ever before.
Regenerative Medicine Technology Meets Funding Milestone
Several years ago, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Eric Beckman, PhD, George M. Bevier Professor of Engineering in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and Michael Buckley, MD, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, invented a novel medical adhesive technology. The new adhesive—now known as TissuGlu®—was designed to meet a market demand for a strong, safe tissue adhesive to improve the wound closure process. The product positions tissues for optimal healing while minimizing fluid accumulation. To move the University of Pittsburgh-developed technology towards clinical use, Cohera Medical, Inc.® was formed, and the invention rights were licensed by the University to Cohera.
Regenerative Medicine Work to Develop Devices for Improving Lives of Amputees
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Christopher T. Bettinger, PhD, and Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, PhD, and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member from the University of Pittsburgh, Kacey Marra, PhD, received $1.6 million for the next 4 years from the U.S. Army to improve the use of prosthetic devices.
Grants for Education Projects Related to Wounded Veterans, Persons with Disabilities Received
The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $472,794 grant to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Rory Cooper, PhD, and Mary Goldberg of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) and the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) to study pathways for military veterans with disabilities transitioning into education. The project aims to create a model for such veterans and people with disabilities to succeed in Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM) programs.
Promoting research to advance medicine for the military is the focus of a newly established center at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine associate director Rocky Tuan, PhD, the Arthur J. Rooney Sr. Chair in Sports Medicine and the executive vice chair for research and director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, is its founding director with support from McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Peter Strick, PhD, distinguished professor, Department of Neurobiology.
Dr. Peter Wearden Provides International Assistance with Regenerative Medicine Medical Device
Recently, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Peter Wearden, MD, PhD, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon and director of pediatric mechanical cardiopulmonary support at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, helped make history in Japan. Dr. Wearden advised doctors in Japan on the implantation of the Berlin Heart EXCOR® ventricular assist device (VAD) which then, for the first time in the history of Japan, made it possible for doctors at the University of Tokyo to save a small child who was seriously suffering from a severe heart condition. From a medical point of view, the 14-month-old girl would only have been able to survive a few more weeks without the VAD. Now the artificial heart has taken over the pumping function of the completely weakened heart. Until a donor heart is found for the girl, weighing only 7 kilograms (approximately 15.5 pounds), her life depends on the mechanical artificial heart.
$4.5 Million Grant Obtained to Study Potential Improvements for Wheelchair Users
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Michael Boninger, MD, professor and chair, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, associate dean of medical student research in the School of Medicine, as well as the director of the University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury, and researchers from Pitt’s School of Medicine and UPMC will lead a 5-year, multi-site project aimed at improving the lives of people with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI). The study will use Internet-based training and group sessions to hone the skills of wheelchair use and prevent wheelchair failures. This research will involve more than 500 participants over 4 different sites, making it one of the largest studies of its kind.
Regenerative Medicine Spin Off Technology Moves Closer To Clinical Use
A commercial version of technologies developed in the McGowan Medical Devices Prototype Laboratory (MMDPL) at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine has moved one step closer to serving the needs of patients with respiratory distress. ALung Technologies, Inc., a University of Pittsburgh licensee, presented an analysis of its recent clinical trial of the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System (RAS) (pictured) in patients with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The results of a clinical study in Germany were summarized in a paper that was presented at the 58th Annual Conference of the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs in San Francisco.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Jeffrey Teuteberg, MD, assistant professor of medicine, associate director of the Heart Transplant Program, member of the Heart Failure/Cardiac Transplant section, and medical director, Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and faculty member Robert Kormos, MD, professor with tenure specializing in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, director of UPMC’s Artificial Heart and Program, and co-director of the Heart Transplant Program, and colleagues authored a recent study which looked to test the usefulness of the Destination Therapy Risk Score (DTRS) in patients with continuous flow left ventricular assist devices (LVAD). The DTRS was developed to predict the risk of 90-day in-hospital mortality with pulsatile flow LVAD as destination therapy (DT).
Regenerative Medicine Spin-Out Funds Research Fellowship
The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine received a monetary gift award of $70,000 from ALung Technologies Inc. in support of a research fellowship in the area of respiratory assist devices. The award augments ongoing studies with the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine-Medical Devices Laboratory headed by William Federspiel, PhD, the William Kepler Whiteford professor of bioengineering, chemical engineering, and surgery, University of Pittsburgh. This is the second donation from ALung in support of McGowan Institute research and is a good example of how university spin-out companies can provide support to continue the advancement of emerging technologies.
LVADs as Destination Therapy Rather Than Bridge-to-Transplant
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Robert Kormos, MD, director, Artificial Heart Program, co-director Heart Transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and medical director of Vital Engineering, and the team of professionals of the UPMC Artificial Heart Program provide long-term cardiac support for patients suffering from advanced-stage heart failure who are and are not eligible for transplantation.
Introducing the McGowan Medical Device Prototype Laboratory
The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine is pleased to introduce the McGowan Medical Device Prototype Laboratory (MMDPL). Through their unique capabilities, Laboratory staff members are assisting clinicians and engineers with the translation from concept to functional prototype of clinically significant devices and instrumentation. By using the team’s experience in the utilization of advanced engineering tools and manufacturing processes, their unique implementation strategies will form a novel bridge network of facilities to streamline the “Insight to Product” process.