Researchers from Cleveland have managed to create an artificial lung that reaches an efficiency comparable to that of the real organ, by using air, instead of pure oxygen, as an essential element.

There is still a long way to go, and human transplant is years away, but the results so far are extremely encouraging, and the device is a huge step forward in creating an artificial lung, a hope for the 200 million lung disease sufferers worldwide.

Scientists built this prototype by following the natural lung’s design and tiny dimensions; the artificial lung is filled with breathable silicone rubber versions of blood vessels that branch down to a diameter less than one-fourth the diameter of human hair.

“Based on current device performance, we estimate that a unit that could be used in humans would be about 6 inches by 6 inches by 4 inches tall, or about the volume of the human lung. In addition, the device could be driven by the heart and would not require a mechanical pump,” said Joe Potkay, a research assistant professor in electrical engineering and computer science who led the paper.

Potkay specalizes in micro- and nano-technology, worked with Brian Cmolik, an assistant clinical professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and researcher at the Advanced Platform Technology Center and the Cardiothoracic Surgery department at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.

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