jump to example.com
newsletter linked in

UVa. researchers aim to slash number of donated lungs that go to waste

Groundbreaking research at the University of Virginia School of Medicine that aims to dramatically increase the number of lungs that can be used for transplant has received a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

uva-logoThe work seeks to use a drug developed at UVA to rehabilitate lungs that are currently deemed unusable. It could allow doctors, for the first time, to harvest, repair and use lungs from donors whose hearts are not beating, such as patients who have suffered cardiac arrest. It could also significantly increase the window of time when transplants are possible after lungs have been removed from the body, theoretically allowing a patient in Miami to receive a lung from a deceased donor in Seattle.

“We want to be able to utilize the much larger pool of potential donor lungs: the non-heart-beating donors,” said co-principal investigator Victor Laubach, PhD, of UVA’s Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. “And if we can do that using this system, we can significantly reduce or maybe even eliminate the wait list for transplants. And that would save a lot of lives.”


Wasted Lungs

Only 15 percent of donor lungs now end up being usable, Laubach said. The rest are discarded because they’re deemed unsuitable, often because the donor died outside a hospital, causing an unknown amount of damage to the lungs. “Fifteen percent is really a low, low number,” Laubach said. “That means there are a large number of patients on the waiting list for lungs, and many of those patients will die because they can’t get a lung in time.”

The UVA researchers, led by Laubach and co-principal investigator Irving L. Kron, MD, are testing a drug, developed at UVA, in combination with an existing technology called ex-vivo lung perfusion. Ex-vivo lung perfusion allows a lung to be removed from the body, connected to a machine and evaluated to determine how well it can function. UVA’s drug, meanwhile, has been shown to greatly reduce inflammation and damage to lungs in experimental transplantations. So the hope is that combining the two will allow doctors to rehabilitate and use lungs that now go to waste.

“There is an organ shortage due to the inability to use lungs that can be improved by this extraordinary new technology,” Kron said. “We believe this will translate to improved survival for patients with end-stage lung disease.”


About the NIH Grant

The five-year, $3.3 million grant, from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, will allow the UVA researchers to advance their studies, now using pigs, in hopes of one day applying the approach to humans.

The researchers also hope their work will extend the period that a lung is usable outside the body. Currently that window is typically six to eight hours; the UVA researchers hope to extend it to 24 hours or even longer.

In addition to supporting experimental pig lung transplant studies, this grant will also enable the UVA team to begin working with human lungs that are not used for transplant. “Rather than being thrown away, we’re going to bring these lungs into the lab to see if we can rehabilitate them to actually make them usable,” Laubach said. “We can assess them and hopefully confirm the findings we see in the pigs. If it all goes well, one day down the road, we will start doing this in patients.”

Recent News

AFP Business

AFP: The Magazine

In 2015, Augusta Free Press brought back our print magazine under a new name, Augusta Free Press: The Magazine.

Advertise on AFP

Get information on AFP readership and advertising online with us.

AFP Classes

Augusta Free Press offers a series classes on website design, marketing strategy, social media, event planning and more.

AFP Web Design

Get your business online for as little as $1,299. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design and content development.

AFP Graphic Design

Whether you need a fresh business card design, rack card, ad, flyer or full magazine design, we can help with all your graphic-design needs.

AFP Marketing/PR

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

AFP Search Engine Optimization

The prettiest website in the world is like a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it. If your website hasn’t been search engine optimized, no one is going to see it or hear it – and it’s not going to work for you.


AFP Video/Audio

Web videos, TV and radio commercials, DVDs – Augusta Free Press LLC has you covered when it comes to video and audio production.

AFP Book Publishing

Augusta Free Press Publishing has produced books in-house and assisted more than 17 authors with book publishing and production services since 2003. Whether you need a cover, layout, or need help from start to finish, we are here to help!