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James F. Antaki, Ph.D.

Hello, My name is Jim Antaki. I am the director of the artificial organs lab at Carnegie Mellon University. I'm here today to tell you about a $300,000 grant we received through NIH [National Institutes of Health] and the [economic] stimulus program to support development of treatments for malaria. Malaria, whether you know it or not, is one of the most pandemic diseases in the world. Over 300 million people have malaria in the world. Only 1,000 of them are in the United States, so it's obviously not a huge U.S. domestic issue, but in the sub-Saharan desert, over a million people die per year, and most of them are children and pregnant women. Well my colleague discovered a method of removing the parasite from the blood of patients who have malaria by using magnetism. It so happens that the research in our lab relates to the use of magnets for a different purpose and also the study and flow of blood cells. So it was a perfect synergy between this problem and the research we've already been doing in our lab. And we're now beginning to develop a device that could be used to filter the blood of these patients to save their lives. The funding is going to be used to support my colleague who is a physicist who just received his MBA from the Tepper School of Business here at Carnegie Mellon and would otherwise be out of work. He would be flipping burgers or just unemployed. And now we're able to support this talented individual for at least two years, get the project up and running, and because of his entrepreneurial interests he's going to begin developing a company that hopefully can commercialize this therapy, export it to the third world, and hopefully contribute our share to the balance of trade. We have basically two people working on the project right now. At our current pace we might have a prototype that we could potentially test in humans in two years at the end of this program. We're likely to start our trials in South Africa because of yet another serendipitous coincidence, is that a colleague of mine is developing an artificial blood substitute for south Africa and we might be collaborating with him to begin our clinical trials. Our lab for the past 5 years has been working on a miniature blood pump to treat children with heart diseases. The unique property of our blood pump is that it has a magnetic levitation system just like a magnetic levitation train. It's a rotary pump which means it has a propeller kind of like a jet engine or a vacuum cleaner. It spins at 10,000 RPM and the research challenge has to do with maintaining a rotating propeller at that speed without wearing out and without damaging blood cells. So the advanced magnetic research we're doing for the levitation combined with the advanced blood research we're doing for blood trauma, is serendipitous with this project with magnetic removal of malaria from blood.

James F. Antaki, Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Multi-Scale Model of Thormbosis in Artificial Circulation
Administered by the NHLBI Division of Blood Diseases and Resources, Thrombosis and Hemostasis Branch
FY 2009 Recovery Act Funding: $363,774

Last Updated:August 10, 2010

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