Congenital lung hypoplasia--lungs that are small and underdeveloped at birth--claims the lives of over 4000 children annually in the United States. This is close to a sixth of all infant deaths. Causes of pulmonary hypoplasia share one commonality: they all interrupt normal chest anatomy, limiting the space that the lungs have to grow. For the last three decades, clinicians have been giving the lungs a way to "push back" and expand this limited space. Fetal lungs are constantly secreting fluid, and by "trapping" this fluid in the lungs using in utero therapies, clinicians have enabled the lungs to grow more quickly. Unfortunately, current therapies do not regulate this growth rate and often result in lungs that are too large and overstretched to have normal function. Using implantable pressure monitors developed in the Roy Lab, we are determining the optimal parameters for a fetal pressure regulation device. Such a device, which we have also demonstrated, can create the necessary pressure to induce lung growth but not too much as to cause damage. Such technology is paving the way for other, non-fetal uses such as lung regeneration after lung resection in cancer patients.
Project end date: 01/25/13