An out of body experience

By | Science & Technology
The Xvivo perfusion system.Credit@xvivoperfusion.com

A new machine has been designed by Xvivo perfusion which preserves lungs awaiting transplant for prolonged periods than traditional techniques. The XPS keeps the lung alive and may be vital for individuals awaiting a lung transplant. It may prepare lungs which are incompatible recondition them and transform the lung to be suitable for transplant.

Individuals require lung transplants when the lung becomes deficient by numerous factors. These though far from all lung conditions usually arise as a reaction to inhaled allergens over a life time. Historically, men have had higher rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary conditions (COPD). However, recently due to the increase of certain cooking and heating practices in developed countries, the condition now affects both sexes almost equally. In the US and UK 80-95% of those with COPD are smokers or previously were smokers, although this may be curtailed. Long term air quality plays a key role especially deriving from work related dust and irritants.

Lung related conditions commonly occur when airflow may be altered within the lungs. This may be a result of the reduction of small alveoli air sacks by the action of enzymes or when fluid blocks the airways, as in bronchitis. The conditions are characterised by inefficiency in the process of breathing, a chronic cough, reduced airflow and an individual may be incapable of breathing out fully. Additionally, the enzyme action on tissue may lead to a condition called emphysema which results in reduced airflow in the lungs. Normally, bronchi branch and divide many times into bronchioles which transfer air to the exchange surfaces of the lungs, however the number of small airways appears to be reduced in many lung conditions.

Today, a cure for COPD is still to be found although medical treatment may slow the condition, one of the few options left is to have a lung transplant. The most common reasons for this are, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer. An individual’s lungs may be replaced by lungs from a donor including a living donor (one lung).

To improve the transplant process a new machine called the Xvivo perfusion system has been designed. The device supports the work of transplant surgeons and enhances the long term outcomes for the transplant recipient. The system works by containing the lung within a chamber which allows the lung to heal, keeping the lung alive outside the body. A Steen solution is injected into the lung to flush any fluid and makes lungs which are incompatible for transplant suitable by reconditioning them. This has the potential to increase the available donor pool.

The novel lung trial demonstrated the effectiveness of the Xvivo system. Working at body temperature, it allows more time for preparation in transplant surgery and time to make certain the lungs meet acceptable standards. The promising news for those undertaking a transplant is it may prolong life substantially. Using the new Xvivo perfusion system the likelihood of finding a suitable donor is greatly increased, especially if it is needed immediately. The future for individuals with lung conditions may now be a little more assured.

The lungs may be a vital organ of the human body and have a remarkable ability to recover and restore their function. This is demonstrated in individuals with COPD a clear restorative effect operating within the lungs is seen by the growth of new airways. Improving lung health by reducing inhaled allergens and for some individuals smoking cessation may further stimulate this restorative process. Clear improvements are observed in the rate of pulmonary function when smoking may be ceased especially in younger individuals. Optimistically, the introduction of the XPS may further increase the survival rates for those with end stage lung conditions, by increasing the numbers of potential lung donors.

How far is the human species from solving all health related conditions?

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