Typical modern artificial lungs are bulky and inefficient, but the worst part is that they require pure oxygen rather than normal air to operate. That necessitates carrying around big tanks of oxygen, which have to be replaced every few days--hardly an ideal solution. But a new lung built by researchers at Case Western University is a biomimicking wonder that is so efficient, it'll be able to use air, just like an organic lung.
Our own Clay Dillow wrote earlier this summer
that the new lung "is modeled on the natural human lung and contains a bunch of breathable silicone rubber analogs of blood vessels that branch out like real blood vessels down to the point that they reach a diameter smaller than one quarter that of a human hair. This bio-mimicking miniaturization offers a much better surface-area-to-volume ratio, lending the device its higher oxygen exchange efficiency."
The greater efficiency also means smaller size requirements, and the team believes the design is so efficient that it could eventually be inserted into the human chest cavity and even powered by the heart itself--no external power source necessary. Amazing.
Testing is underway with other animals, and the artificial lung is proving to be an estimated three to five times more efficient than traditional artificial lungs. The team thinks it could be ready to install within a decade.
, which is amazing but pretty far off in terms of availability.
Pictured: An iron lung, a relic of yesteryear (yesterdecade?) that this new artificial lung puts to shame.