Arkansas lab conducts research on living lungs

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“The relationship is important because it keeps the research relevant,” Jones said. “This is amazing stuff. We’re looking at something as close to a whole-model system as we can get without going into humans.”

Kurten receives a new lung about every two to three weeks. He is currently on lung No. 95.

On average, Kurten has about 18 hours from the time the lung is harvested until it can no longer be used.

Panettieri praised Kurten’s efforts and said that the techniques, while still a “work in progress,” are making a great impact.

Some lung samples can now be used two weeks after harvest. “Down the road,” Panettieri said, the techniques may result in lungs being frozen, then revived months, even years later.

Kurten further maximizes the use of the lungs by sharing unused samples with other researchers across the nation, including Dr. Daniel Voth, assistant professor and graduate program director for the department of microbiology and immunology at UAMS.

Voth studies the Coxiella burnetii infection - a condition commonly referred to as Q fever that originates in livestock and can be transferred to humans by inhalation of spores. The infection can cause severe upper respiratory problems for humans, among other complications, and can lead to inflammatory heart disease.

The partnership with Kurten has translated into Voth’s being the only Coxiella research lab in the nation to conduct studies on human cells.

“The ability to study the Coxiella infection in intact lung samples is a pretty novel thing. To be able to do this in the most natural setting possible, I think that’s where we’re going to learn the most,” Voth said.

Kurten said the opportunities brought by the research are endless and the findings and research techniques could possibly be replicated in other research areas.

“I think we are convincing others that their experiments can be done,” he said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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