NIFE Video

NIFE - Making-of


AG "BIOHYBRID LUNG" (Dr. Bettina Wiegmann)

Director of Clinic / Institute: Prof. Dr. Axel Haverich
Representative at the NIFE: Dr. Bettina Wiegmann


Biohybrid lung, biohybrid VAD, bioactive coatings, cell culture, tissue engineering, endothelialisation, ECMO, in-vivo testing, computational modelling, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), finite element (FE) analysis, artificial lung bioreactors, haemodynamics, biocompatibility, disease modelling.

Scientific expertise

For providing an alternative option to lung transplantation, the group works towards the development of an implantable biohybrid lung, which is capable to permanently support, or even completely take over the blood gas exchange of patients suffering from severe lung and/or heart diseases. The technology is based on the principles of contemporary, clinically applied extracorporeal membrane oxygenation devices (ECMO), utilizing synthetic hollow fibre membranes. Due to the incomplete hemocompatibility of its components, ECMO can currently be applied for a limited time only (days to weeks), while the patients are restricted to the intensive care unit for the meticulous control of the inevitable anti-coagulation and prophylactic antibiotic therapies.

In order to ensure the complete, durable hemocompatibility and device functioning for the biohybrid lung, all blood-contacting surfaces of the device components need to be covered with a monolayer of endothelial cells (cells lining the lumen of blood vessels). Moreover, the device hemodynamics will be optimized by computer-aided modifications of the device geometry, to reduce the hemolysis rate from areas with high shear rate and to prevent the thrombus formation in “low-flow” areas.

  1. Along these lines, we investigate optimal treatments and coatings to enable the adhesion of endothelial cells on the synthetic materials of the biohybrid lung components, such as the gas exchange membranes, the blood pump and the circuit tubings.

  2. In order to effectively cover the surface of all components, more than 5 x 108 ECs are needed, which will not be available from the prospective biohybrid lung recipient instantly. Consequently, we assess immune-tolerable and immune-privileged (genetically modified) ECs from alternative sources for their eligibility and further investigate the behaviour of these cells under conditions prevailing in the biohybrid lung.

  3. Customized in-silico models that are also capable to simulate conditions during different stages of a distinctive pulmonary and/or cardiac disease (e.g. cystic fibrosis, COPD) are used to assess the biohybrid lung prototypes with regards to gas exchange efficiency and hemodynamics.

  4. Bio- and hemocompatibility, as well as fluid dynamics and gas exchange capacities of the biohybrid lung prototypes are tested in different mock-circulations, as well as in small and large animal models.