Artificial Placenta (ArtPlac)

Miniaturized Integrated Lung and Kidney Support for Critically Ill Newborns

ArtPlac is a preclinical research project dedicated to develop an innovative technology of medical treatments for neonatal intensive care.

It aims to develop a less invasive approach on neonatal parameter monitoring by designing a combined lung and kidney assist device, and ultimately, to reduce risk and medical burden to the newborn.

Our mission is to bring innovative and cutting-edge technologies to our community. We are passionate to achieve the Sustainable Global Development Goal 3 and to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being and reduce life-long morbidity for all at all ages, in particular to the reduction of the preventable deaths of newborns (Sustainable Global Development 3.2).

State-of-the-art intensive care

  • Highly invasive and high-risk interventions
  • High mortality, high probability of morbidities
  • Lifelong disabilities
  • No family integration
  • Multi interface human-machine connections

Fig. 1A: Invasive state-of-the-art setup with respirator, four surgically placed lines, attached extracorporeal lung assist plus dialyzer with paralyzed newborn. © Copyright by Ela Derek / property of the University of Twente


Fig. 1B: ArtPlac – one device attached to the umbilical cord combining lung and kidney support, inline monitoring and control. © Copyright by Ela Derek / property of the University of Twente

Our Approach - ArtPlac

  • Low invasive physiological measures
  • Low risk intervention
  • Avoiding lifelong disabilities
  • Infant and family-centred developmental care
  • Single interface human to machine

Our project will develop a novel artificial placenta (ArtPlac), which will increase the use of extracorporeal life support by a factor of 20 to 60 in the neonatal population and thus save 400,000 to 1.2 million lives per year.


What drives us towards this radical new treatment approach?

2 million neonatal deaths that occur worldwide yearly despite the technological advancement of the last fifty years in this field (World Health Organization)¹. In many of these cases, the disturbed takeover of placental function manifests as fatal lung failure, in some cases combined with kidney failure²-⁵. Many of these deaths are due to limitations in application of invasive mechanical ventila¬tion, artificial lung and kidney devices. The latter were originally developed for adults and downscaled for neonatal care, however they do not meet the needs of newborns as they are highly invasive: In fact, mechanical ventilation damages the immature lung tissue, and artificial lung and kidney devices in addition to nutrition and blood monitoring require several surgically placed lines (Fig. 1A). in addition, these stressful treatments separate families and babies for a long time and are often not able to prevent death. Moreover, about 15% (worldwide 3,000 out of 20,000) infants receiving organ replacement suffer from serious side effects, and are not able to live independently afterwards, requiring several hospital admissions throughout their entire life. Finally, not all newborns have access to these therapies, since organ replacement such as artificial lung therapy have strict eligibility criteria (e.g., weight > 2.2 kg) and their implementation requires highly skilled personnel in a well-equipped environment. Therefore, its application is currently limited to only 20,000 newborns worldwide per year.


ArtPlac is a preclinical research project dedicated to develop an innovative technology of medical treatments for neonatal intensive care.


Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.