06:29 PM 11:29 AM EST DEC 4, 2023 JLM 65°F
Israeli innovation: Intubation could become a relic of the Covid era

Getting its inspiration from nature, a medical-device company is developing a less invasive way to oxygenate blood without mechanical ventilation. It’s a vital step forward.

During the Covid-19 crisis, the medical term “intubation” entered common parlance. 

Severe Covid patients, unable to breathe on their own, sometimes needed to have a tube inserted into their lungs hooked up to a mechanical ventilator. Intubated patients frequently are put into a medically induced coma.

Intubation and coma are terrifying for both patient and doctor. A significant proportion of patients do not survive. Millions of people around the globe suffer from acute respiratory failure from different causes – not just Covid – and 35.9% never make it out of the hospital.

Those who do survive face a long recovery period. Readmission rates are high and around 30 percent of patients develop PTSD.

Intubation doesn’t cure a severe lung infection. It simply gives the body time to respond to medication or to heal itself. 

“If a patient’s blood oxygenation level continues to deteriorate despite non-invasive efforts, such as an oxygen mask, then invasive mechanical ventilation becomes the only option of treatment,” explains Prof. Benad Goldwasser, a urologist by training and chairman of the board of Inspira, a Ra’anana-based startup testing a less invasive concept for oxygenating blood without intubation. 

Inspira’s unique Inspira ART500 (it stands for “Augmented Respiratory Technology”) system draws up to two liters of blood per minute into a portable device that removes excess CO2, enriches the blood with oxygen, and returns it to the patient via the same vein through a novel dual lumen cannula. 

Think of it like a kidney dialysis machine but for blood oxygenation.

Even though the ART500 requires only a relatively small amount of blood (about one liter), the method can raise the oxygenation level of a patient to the “safe zone” of 95% in 60 seconds. Patients remain awake and breathing on their own.

Like working in the dark

Dagi Ben-Noon, a serial entrepreneur who previously cofounded Nano Dimension, established Inspira in 2018 with South African-born Joe Hayon, previously corporate controller and chief information officer for defense vehicle manufacturer Plassan Sasa. The two met in boot camp in the Golani division of the Israel Defense Forces.

Predictive analytics

The Inspira ART500 will have built-in blood sensing and AI capabilities. 

“The system’s predictive analytics target is to monitor key parameters in the blood,” Hayon explains. “We can potentially know more about what’s happening with the patients and alert their doctors about any changes or abnormalities in real time and urge early intervention.” 

$20 billion market

Hayon estimates the total addressable market for Inspira’s ART500 and other non-invasive intubation alternatives on which the company is working at $20 billion.

Inspira has signed an agreement with Teruma Cardiovascular, a Japan-based company with a strong US presence, which develops heart-lung machines as well as oxygenation and monitoring systems. Teruma will supply a flow mechanism for Inspira’s blood circulation process.

Image - Courtesy of Inspira

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