Edmonton, Alberta – November 7, 2019 – The University Hospital Foundation (UHF) and Alberta Health Services are celebrating 12 successful lung transplants using the Ex-Vivo Organ Support System (EVOSS), in a University of Alberta led clinical trial at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. Through the project – partially funded by UHF – 12 patients have had their lives changed by this made-in-Alberta technology, which makes it possible to keep donor lungs “alive” outside the body, increasing organ quality and availability.
EVOSS is an automated and portable platform designed to maintain donor organs in an environment mimicking the human body, by using negative pressure to imitate human breathing. Other devices previously available for Ex-Vivo Lung Perfusion have used positive pressure, applying pressurized air to the airway, into the lung, but this method can cause damage to the organ. Lungs can be kept in EVOSS for a greater period of time from 6-8 hours on ice, up to 48 hours on the Lung EVOSS device, increasing the time doctors have to transplant the organs. EVOSS even allows organs that are sick or damaged, and would be considered unsuitable for transplant, to be treated and repaired making them viable for transplantation. For instance, lungs infected with pneumonia can be treated with massive doses of antibiotics to clear them out. This cannot be done with lungs stored on ice, and because the lungs are not connected to a human body, doctors can use extraordinary measures to treat them. This technology increases organ availability, improves quality and could reduce wait times for patients.
“By investing donations in innovative research and technology development, we are investing in the future of healthcare, and ultimately improving patient care, outcomes, and quality of life,” said Christy Holtby, Interim President and CEO with the University Hospital Foundation.
“This support allowed the project to progress, adding new partners like the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program, the Alberta Transplant Institute and the Alberta Transplant Innovation Fund. We are proud to support visionaries like Dr. Freed and Dr. Nagendran in the groundbreaking work they are accomplishing.”
“Research plays a vital role in advancing patient care for Albertans, and this study exemplifies how surgeons at the Maz are at the forefront of innovation,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, President and CEO, Alberta Health Services.
EVOSS was invented and developed by Dr. Darren Freed, a cardiac surgeon and Director of Research for the U of A’s Alberta Transplant Institute. He partnered with Dr. Jayan Nagendran, a fellow cardiac surgeon, and the Surgical Director of Lung Transplantation at the University of Alberta and the Director of Research for the Division of Cardiac Surgery at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. The doctors co-founded Tevosol Inc, a medical device company created to increase the quality and quantity of viable donor organs for transplantation.
“This milestone marks our rapid acceleration from initial concepts and prototypes into commercial product design and development,” said Tevosol CEO Ron Mills. “Our core technology is ready, and we’re focused on delivering a beautifully functional device for Canadian pilot launch and FDA pivotal clinical trials in 2020. We thank the University Hospital Foundation for making our research and these first 12 transplants possible.”
More than $1 million has been invested into this project by the University Hospital Foundation and the Alberta Transplant Innovation Fund (ATIF), a partnership between Alberta’s Economic Development Trade & Tourism, Astellas Pharma Canada Inc., and the University Hospital Foundation. ATIF was established to fund research, just like this, aimed at improving the care available to transplant patients, and accelerating the translation of this research into technology that is commercially viable – and therefore available to clinicians and patients.
This research also received funding and national infrastructure support through the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program, which is led out of the University of Alberta, as well as funding from the Alberta Transplant Institute. The funding from the Institute was instrumental in getting the work launched.
“This pioneering research captures the imagination of both the transplantation community and our patients,” said Dr. Lori West, Director of the Alberta Transplant Institute and Scientific Director of the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program. “This type of transformative research is only possible through creative and strategic partnerships that allow high-impact innovation to flourish here at the U of A. The partnership that created the ATIF is a perfect example of how committed partners can come together to improve the lives of patients waiting or living with a transplant.”
Currently, less than 1 out of 5 sets of lungs offered in donation are used for transplantation. Often lungs are not used because of decreased lung function of the donor lungs. Unfortunately, there is also a rise in the number of patients being listed for lung transplantation with a variety of diseases that are all increasingly prevalent in society. EVOSS has the potential to increase the number of donor lungs available for transplantation. The technology will lead to a geographic expansion of where donors can be accepted from. Instead of only having six to eight hours to transport a lung on ice and perform surgery, surgeons may have up to 48 hours. If lungs are successfully treated in EVOSS, it will potentially allow for the use of injured and sick organs, truly revolutionizing the way lung transplantation is performed in this country and around the world, saving more lives.
University Hospital Foundation
The University Hospital Foundation raises and manages funds to advance patient care, research and healthcare education at the University of Alberta Hospital, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Kaye Edmonton Clinic. Through Strategic Partnerships, the University Hospital Foundation brings together industry, the public sector, and philanthropic collaborations to advance and translate Alberta’s innovations into solutions that impact the health of all Canadians. With this collaborative approach to invest in shared areas of interest, the Foundation’s philanthropic investment – and that of our partners – is multiplied. www.GivetoUHF.ca.