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Temple Researchers Testing Miniature Lung Coils as a Novel Treatment For Emphysema

News January 17, 2013

Temple researchers are testing whether implanting miniature coils in the airways of diseased lungs can improve breathing, activity levels and quality of life for emphysema patients.

The coils work by compressing damaged tissue, which allows the healthier parts of the lung to function more efficiently and make breathing easier. The coils are made of Nitinol, a metal commonly used in medical implants, and offer a minimally invasive alternative to lung volume reduction surgery.

Temple is testing the RePneu® Lung Volume Reduction Coils as part of the Lung Volume Reduction Coil Treatment in Patients with Emphysema (RENEW) Study, which is being conducted by California-based PneumRx, the company that makes the coils. European studies have shown that patients treated with the coils have an improved quality of life, better ability to exercise and reduced breathlessness.

“The RePneu coils are delivered through a bronchoscope in a short, non-surgical procedure that is performed under conscious sedation or general anesthesia,” says Gerard Criner, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine and lead investigator of the trial at Temple. “A typical procedure takes approximately 30 minutes and involves the implantation of about 10 coils.”

“Our involvement in the RENEW study means that we can give emphysema patients an option that most hospitals don’t offer,” continues Dr. Criner, who is also Director of the nationally ranked Temple Lung Center, one of the nation’s leaders in the diagnosis, treatment and research of patients with complex lung problems.

The RePneu coils are pre-formed into a coil shape, but they are delivered to the lung in a straight configuration. When the coils are deployed into the lung, they recover to their original shape, gathering and compressing diseased tissue and allowing the healthy tissue to function better. The coils are a permanent implant. 

This research study is a randomized controlled study. After a pre-screening process, those who meet the clinical criteria for study participation are randomized to either standard-of-care (the control group) or undergo the coil procedure. After the 12-month study is complete, those in the control group may have a chance to receive the coil. This will be decided after a medical committee and the FDA reviews the study safety data and allows the study to proceed.

Temple is currently pre-screening patients for the RENEW study. Interested patients may call Kathy McLeer, RN, research program manager, at 215-707-4821 for more information.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Criner has no financial interest in PneumRx, manufacturer of the RePneu® Lung Volume Reduction Coil.