Various acute and chronic lung disorders may ultimately lead to End-Stage Lung Disease (ELD). Once all options for mechanical ventilation have been exhausted, only two treatment options remain for these patients on the brink of death: extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) or lung transplantation. Today, however, ECMO therapy remains restricted to short-term application, primarily as a bridge to transplantation and as a bridge to recovery in acute pulmonary infections (e.g. H1N1). In chronic lung injury, transplantation remains the only available therapy with the potential of true long-term survival. This treatment option, however, may only be used in a limited number of patients, excluding those with lung tumors, and long-term survival can be severely compromised by chronic rejection. Regenerative therapies that promote endogenous lung repair, cell transplantation, or tissue engineering are currently not available. The research program therefore aims to refine transplantation procedures and further develop preoperative preparation and postoperative care in lung transplantation to minimize acute and chronic rejection. It also aims to optimize ECMO therapy towards fully implantable lung devices and set the stage for regeneration of diseased lung tissue.
Dr. Annegret Zurawski (BREATH)