New Center to Double Available Donor Lungs for Transplant

New Center to Double Available Donor Lungs for Transplant

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Lung Restoration Center
Lung Restoration Center

It’s about a groundbreaking that breaks new ground in research and saving lives. Mayo Clinic in Florida is collaborating with United Therapeutics to build a lung restoration center that could more than double the number of donor lungs viable for transplant in the United States. They broke ground for the construction on January 19, but the impact will come in 2017 when the center opens, increasing hope for more transplant patients on waiting lists.

United Therapeutics has developed perfusion technology to sustain and rejuvenate donor lungs outside the body in a specialized chamber, making previously marginal lungs suitable for transplantation and extending the time lungs remain viable.

Mayo Clinic will lease land to a subsidiary of United Therapeutics to build, equip and operate the center. Mayo will provide clinical oversight and procure and deliver lungs for restoration, working with organ procurement organizations, as it does now.

Mayo Clinic Vice President Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., Ph.D., signs solar panels to be erected as part of the Lung Restoration Center on the Florida campus in Jacksonville.
Mayo Clinic Vice President Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., Ph.D., signs solar panels to be erected as part of the Lung Restoration Center on the Florida campus in Jacksonville.

“United Therapeutics shares our commitment to developing medical innovations that improve the health of patients,” said Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., vice president of Mayo Clinic and president of Mayo Clinic in Florida. He noted Mayo Clinic helps patients with the most complex medical needs by integrating clinical care, research and medical education to provide exactly the care patients need – when they need it.

“This building fits that perfectly with that,” Dr. Farrugia said. “It’s just one example of how you will see Mayo Clinic in Florida grow and expand as a destination medical center for the Southeastern United States.”

Lungs will be made available to Mayo patients and as well as other transplant centers. The building’s first two floors will house the center. The third will house Mayo research to advance individualized medicine and regenerative medicine, as well as provide bio-incubator space to develop new medical technologies.

“It truly is a day that’s never been topped for me in the 20 years that I’ve been working to try to develop a cure for our daughter’s hypertension and for end-stage lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and lung cancer that affect literally hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone,” said United Therapeutics Chairman and Co-CEO Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D., MBA, J.D.

She said U.S. lung transplants remain steady at 2,000 per year, though 250,000 people die each year of end-stage lung diseases, not including lung cancer. She hopes to “double, triple, quadruple the number of lives that could be saved with lung transplantation.”

She credited her father’s life being saved at Mayo Clinic in Rochester many years ago with her being in a position today to advance this technology, and thanked Thomas Gonwa, M.D., for championing the project and Cesar Keller, M.D., for being an essential part of the scientific team.

– Marcia Mattson, January 29, 2016