Microchannel Assemblies as Artificial Blood-Capillary Beds for Artificial Organs

INVENTION: A thin biocompatible wafer with millions of micron-size channels has been designed to allow for efficient transport in artificial organs. This wafer may be significantly important in artificial lung design.

BACKGROUND: A major function of most internal organs (e.g., lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, etc.) is the transport of chemical species (nutrients, oxygen and waste products) to and from the blood. Such transport occurs at the capillary level of the circulation, where the width of the blood-side passageway is on the order for 5-10 microns. Current organ-function replacement devices have relatively poor chemical exchange rates when compared to their physiological counterparts, and this is particularly true in the case of artificial lungs. Because of the relatively large blood-side passages, all current artificial lungs require blood-side mixing.

Northwestern investigators have developed a new method for creating microchannel assemblies and have designed a biocompatible wafer with an array of microchannels for more efficient blood-gas exchange. These new assemblies contain microchannels similar to the physiological size of blood capillary beds and may act as effective artificial lungs and eliminate the requirement of blood-side mixing.

SIGNIFICANCE: There is an inadequate supply of natural organs available for transplant. In the United States alone, a new name is added every 14-16 min to the transplant waiting list. The number of organ donations, however, has not increased significantly over the past decade. Currently, the available number of organs for transplant does not meet the demand and the need for transplants is expected to grow. The average time today on the lung transplant list is two years. Thus, the available number of organs for transplant will not meet the needs of the future. Artificial organ technologies for replacements, substitutes and organ support remain an important area for development and research.

STATUS: A patent application has been filed and Northwestern is interested in licensing this invention.

Inventor(s): Harold Kung, Mayfair Kung, Lyle Mockros, Kristoffer Popp

Type of Offer: Licensing

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