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Development of a Higher Flow Rate Hemocompatible Biomimetic Microfluidic Blood Oxygenator

The rising frequency of chronic lung disorders like COPD, as well as the unexpected and potentially devastating outbreaks of acute infectious diseases like swine flu and COVID-19, underline the urgent need for better therapies for respiratory insufficiency and respiratory failure.

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The rising frequency of chronic lung disorders like COPD, as well as the unexpected and potentially devastating outbreaks of acute infectious diseases like swine flu and COVID-19, underline the urgent need for better therapies for respiratory insufficiency and respiratory failure. Every year, invasive mechanical ventilation (MV) is used to assist oxygenation and carbon dioxide removal in patients suffering from cardiopulmonary failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to a variety of reasons. MV, on the other hand, is linked to mechanical damage to already vulnerable lungs (barotrauma), as well as the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia and other infections.


These factors, combined with the difficulties of using MV to effectively treat emerging pandemic infections like COVID-19, have sparked a surge in interest in Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), in which blood is circulated through an external circuit where gas exchange occurs in an artificial lung, allowing ventilator support to be reduced or eliminated in rare cases. However, ECMO has its own set of dangers, most of which are connected to the blood circuit's intricacy and the risk of clotting and bleeding. Complications involving anticoagulation, heparin dosing, and thrombus formation, as well as limitations in the efficiency of the gas transfer process and the requirement for fairly vigorous gas/blood mixing, particularly in extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal (ECCO2R), have all contributed to efforts to find safer and more efficacious advances in ECMO technology.


A number of organizations have made significant progress in the creation of microfluidic oxygenators during the last decade, combining breakthroughs in computational designs, microfabrication methods, and biomaterials technologies to create prototype devices. Finally, the goal of this study is to develop a safer and simpler ECMO technology that will allow for better patient outcomes and wider access to the treatment, addressing the pressing need for novel respiratory support systems. CPD-treated swine whole blood was used in an in vitro test setting at Draper to assess oxygen transport. Blood flows across oxygen-carrying hollow fiber mats or bundles in HFMO, and the blood flow patterns are determined by the overall form of the cartridge housing and the arrangement of the fibers within it. Hemocompatibility experiments in an in vitro circuit that last up to 6 hours show that important characteristics including plasma-free hemoglobin and platelet concentration are essentially equal to control circuits.


Biomimetic microfluidic oxygenators in this paper detail the construction of a high-flow (30 mL/min) single-layer prototype that can be stacked and assembled with blood distribution manifolds to scale up to bigger structures. Microfluidic oxygenators were created employing high-precision machined durable metal master molds and microreplication using silicone sheets, resulting in large-area gas transfer devices. Oxygen transport was assessed by circulating 100% O2 at 100 mL/min and blood at 0–30 mL/min while monitoring changes in O2 partial pressures in the blood. In several devices, this design resulted in an increase in oxygen saturation from 65 percent to 95 percent at 20 mL/min and operation up to 30 mL/min, the highest value yet recorded in a single layer microfluidic device. 
This investigation provides a potential pathway toward scaling microfluidic oxygenators toward clinical applications. 

Read more:
Santos, J.; Vedula, E.M.; Lai, W.; Isenberg, B.C.; Lewis, D.J.; Lang, D.; Sutherland, D.; Roberts, T.R.; Harea, G.T.; Wells, C.; Teece, B.; Karandikar, P.; Urban, J.; Risoleo, T.; Gimbel, A.; Solt, D.; Leazer, S.; Chung, K.K.; Sukavaneshvar, S.; Batchinsky, A.I.; Borenstein, J.T. Toward Development of a Higher Flow Rate Hemocompatible Biomimetic Microfluidic Blood Oxygenator. Micromachines 2021, 12, 888. https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12080888
 

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