Development of polymer membranes with improved haemocompatibility for biohybrid organ technology


Biomedical technology has opened up possibilities of treating the failure of internal organs like kidney and liver by artificial organ therapy. Most of these techniques are based on polymer membranes, which allow the removal of excess of water, salts and toxins from the circulation. However, haemodialysis for the replacement of kidney function results in an increased morbidity and mortality of patients after long-term application. Conventional therapy, such as haemofiltration for the treatment of acute liver failure does not improve significantly the survival rate of patients. Biohybrid organ support as a combination of the artificial organ therapy with the functional activity of immobilised cells seems to be a solution of the problem. Membranes applied in these devices have to face both tissue cells and blood. Organ cells in biohybrid organs have to make intimate contact with the surface of membrane but must also develop close cell-cell-connections as a prerequisite for their survival and high functional activity. Blood to be detoxified will contact the other side of membrane and may not become activated by the synthetic material. New polymer membranes based on acrylonitrile were developed to address these requirements by tailoring the composition of copolymers and to be applied in a specific hollow fibre bioreactor with an outer fibre for blood contact, and an inner fibre for tissue contact or vice versa.
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