Public Release: 

Potential of regenerative medicine explored

University of Pittsburgh findings presented at 48th Conference and Exposition, American Society for Artificial Internal Organs

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

NEW YORK, June 14 - Clinical and basic science research findings of more than a dozen studies are being presented by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs. The scientific sessions are June 13-15 at the New York Hilton Hotel. Highlights of the findings include:

  • Filtering antibodies from blood may decrease the risk of organ rejection, William Federspiel, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical engineering and surgery and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, graduate student Mariah Hout and their colleagues report. Dr. Federspiel, who is also director of the artificial lung lab at Pitt's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said that experiments using a hollow fiber material similar to that contained in a typical dialysis filter showed that between 40 percent and 60 percent of targeted rejection antibodies were removed when the fibers were coated with specific antigens. These "specific antibody filters" are showing promise in initial lab tests and may eliminate the need for time-intensive plasma replacement therapy in immunologically sensitive patients prior to transplantation. Ms. Hout will be presenting this work Friday, June 14.

  • An injected solution of blood-soluble drag-reducing polymers (DRPs) improved survival rates in a low-oxygen environment, according to work done in animal models by Marina Kameneva, Ph.D., research associate professor of surgery in the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, and her colleagues. Dr. Kameneva's research group injected a solution of such polymers at minute concentrations into the tail veins of experimental rats, which were then subjected to atmospheric pressure corresponding to an altitude of more than 25,000 feet. Control animals that had been injected with the same volume of saline solution were observed for comparison. While 40 percent of control animals died due to extremely low oxygen concentrations, all animals injected with the polymer solution survived. "The use of DRPs increases oxygen delivery to tissue and organs and leads to enhanced oxygen utilization, even at low (available air) concentrations," Dr. Kameneva said. "This could have a positive impact for patients who experience respiratory distress or failure, or in conditions of significantly lowered oxygen supply." Dr. Kameneva will be presenting this work on Friday, June 14.

"We are pleased to have members of our faculty present their work in a national forum such as this," said Alan J. Russell, Ph.D., director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and professor of surgery, chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. "Research in bioengineered materials - such as artificial blood and organ systems - is the future of medicine."

Other McGowan Institute faculty will be presenting work that touches on decreasing the risk for blood clotting with artificial respiratory support and easing the physical burden of implantable left-ventricular assist devices.

The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (MIRM) was established in the summer of 2000 to realize the vast potential of tissue engineering and other techniques aimed at repairing damaged or diseased tissues and organs. Established by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Health System, the McGowan Institute serves as a clearinghouse for the university's leading scientists and clinical faculty who are working to develop tissue engineering, cellular therapies, biosurgery and artificial and biohybrid organ devices.

The Institute evolved from the former McGowan Center for Artificial Organ Development, which was established in 1992. The center was named after the late William G. McGowan, who as chief executive officer of MCI Communications underwent a successful heart transplant at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 1987.

Members of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs represent more than 30 professional degree specialties in more than 40 countries. They include people who work in government or academic institutions and hospital, industry or private research groups.



Michele D. Baum
Lisa Rossi
PHONE: 412-647-3555
FAX: 412-624-3184

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