Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Breathing new life into pulmonary research

A team of scientists and bioengineers have developed a tissue-engineered artificial lung called PuLMo that simulates the response of the human lung to drugs, toxins, particles and other agents.
January 10, 2018
“PuLMo” for Pulmonary Lung Model

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are developing a miniature, tissue-engineered artificial lung that mimics the response of the human lung to drugs, toxins and other agents. Nicknamed “PuLMo” for Pulmonary Lung Model, the device consists of two major parts, the bronchiolar unit and the alveolar unit — just like the human lung.

Breathing new life into pulmonary research

by Jennifer Harris and Pulak Nath

Biology has entered a phase where basic discoveries can be applied to a wide range of health problems. Whether the next breakthroughs come from genomic research into DNA, for instance, or new insights into how physics and chemistry underpin the mechanisms of life, they will have a dramatic, life-changing impact. We don’t know everything, but what we do know has given biologists and medical researchers impressive new powers.

A sign of biology’s maturity is the explosion of related technologies. Biotech is all around us, from pacemakers to gene editors, from continuous glucose monitors to wonderful new drugs that target cancer cells while leaving healthy ones alone. On one exciting new frontier in biotechnology, researchers are creating miniature, artificial human organs that function much like the real ones. Under the ATHENA research program, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency within the U.S. Department of Defense has funded work integrating miniature artificial hearts, livers, lungs and kidneys into surrogate human organ systems.

For their part in ATHENA, a team of scientists and bioengineers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a tissue-engineered artificial lung called PuLMo, for Pulmonary Lung Model, that simulates the response of the human lung to drugs, toxins, particles and other agents. As an artificial organ that you can see inside, the laptop-sized device is a unique technological scaffold for building all kinds of life-improving research and technology.

This story first appeared in Huffington Post.