Technology that unblocks children's airways
A new technology to unblock and remove secretions from the respiratory tract of children has been developed as part of a collaboration between researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and its affiliated Soroka University Medical Center, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and the University of Cincinnati (UC).
The new device will be beneficial for treatment of children suffering from respiratory diseases including bronchiolitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis (CF).
The technology introduces air pressure and acoustic pulses into the airway and lungs over a low-pressure airstream. The approach simultaneously applies a combination of low frequency flow oscillations and high frequency acoustic waves to detach phlegm from the airway wall and remove it in smaller chunks.
"Although airway secretions are a major component in the pathophysiology of numerous serious diseases affecting the respiratory tract, there is currently no effective therapeutic modality that directly or indirectly treats small airways," says Prof. David Katoshevski, of BGU's Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology.
"Our colleagues at Soroka and Cincinnati Children's indicated the need and brought the medical knowledge which we combined with our technical and engineering capabilities. Together, we developed this innovative solution that will enable bronchiolitis, COPD and CF patients to breathe freely," said Katoshevski.
According to Dr. Iris Little, assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology at Cincinnati Children's in the UC Department of Pediatrics, "Finding treatments for small airways' diseases is of special interest to us since children's airways are more susceptible to obstruction due to secretion because of a smaller cross-sectional area."
"The combination of air pulsation and acoustic waves was shown to be effective in a series of lab tests that simulated human airway and lungs," said Prof. Ephraim Gutmark, UC College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and College of Medicine. "We are now in the process of further developing a device based on a unique clinical protocol that will offer treatment superior to existing solutions."
In 2012, BGU and Cincinnati Children's entered into a multi-year collaboration to address the lack of medical devices designed specifically for children. The goal is to improve health outcomes by ensuring device design that is customized to meet children's unique physiology and medical needs. The collaboration pairs BGU's technical and engineering capabilities with the medical expertise of Cincinnati Children's physicians. Projects are selected and funded by both parties.
"This is another example of a potentially effective therapeutic device that emerged from our fruitful research collaboration with Cincinnati Children's," says Netta Cohen, chief executive officer of BGN Technologies, BGU's technology-transfer company. "We are advancing the development of this technology that is applicable for a wide range of indications, while seeking a strategic partner for further development and commercialization of this breakthrough invention."