A device developed in Israel that might significantly ease the treatment of coronavirus victims suffering from pneumonia and also reduce the danger of contagion to health care providers could reach the market in China within the next few months.
The CoughSync, which was originally developed at Alyn Hospital, a Jerusalem pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation facility, to help children unable to cough for themselves, is now awaiting approval from the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), the Chinese equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration.
To date, 71,000 people globally have been infected with coronavirus, now called Covid-19, and 1,775 have died of the disease. Most of both the infections and the deaths are in China.
An artificial cough
The device, invented by Dr. Eliezer Be’eri, the Director of the Department of Respiratory Rehabilitation at Alyn Hospital, is designed for people on ventilators and simulates a normal cough, clearing phlegm from a patient’s airways.
“Currently, when people are on ventilators, the standard way to remove secretions from the airways is that the nurse will disconnect them from the machine, and use a catheter to suction up secretions,” Be’eri told ISRAEL21c.
“CoughSync is a more natural and far less invasive alternative. The patient doesn’t need to cough, instead the device replicates what a cough would do and this artificial cough takes all the secretions out.”
Aside from being far less invasive, the device can also be attached to the ventilator so there is no need for health care providers to remove the ventilator to give treatment.
“Removing the ventilator manually takes overworked healthcare staff far more time than an automatic system and also exposes them to more risk of catching the virus,” explains Be’eri. “This is what makes it so suitable for treating coronavirus patients with pneumonia.”
This is a serious issue. On February 14th, China published figures which showed that 1,760 health care workers had been infected by coronavirus, and of these, six had died.
It began with polio
The idea behind CoughSync is not new. “The idea of helping patients who can’t cough by themselves simulate a cough has been around since the polio epidemic of the 1950s,” says Be’eri. “It was gradually forgotten as newer, more invasive methods were introduced. At Alyn we’ve been using this technology for a simulated cough for many years.”
Development work began a decade ago as a low-cost treatment for kids going through rehabilitation at Alyn, but Be’eri quickly realized that it could also find a wider market for use with adult patients on ventilators in intensive care units.
Israeli company, Innovent Medical Solutions from Jerusalem licensed the technology to create a working device, and then three years ago the Beijing company, Ruxin Medical Systems stepped in.
Fast tracking the process
With the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, Ruxin is now trying to fast track the device to receive regulatory approval in China. The process, while in advanced stages, could still take several months.
Ruxin has already carried out successful clinical trials to prove efficacy on 100 patients in two Beijing hospitals, and has set up a manufacturing facility. Some devices manufactured there are already in use in India.
“Ruxin has the ability to start production as soon as they get regulatory approval,” said Be’eri, who is on the board of directors at Innovent.
Once Ruxin has approval, the company will manufacture devices for China, and Innovent will begin marketing the device in Israel and Europe. The device is already approved for use in Europe.
“This isn’t a cure or solution for coronavirus, but it’s a tool that could have a significant impact on the treatment of coronavirus patients with pneumonia, and could also reduce the danger of contagion to healthcare workers,” said Be’eri.
“We are bracing ourselves for coronavirus to arrive in Israel,” he added. “We don’t know what is being revealed and what is being hidden in China. It could be a real calamity or it’s possible they could get it under control because of the widespread response. We are concerned and we are waiting.”
CoughSync is not the only Israeli technology that may provide some help in fighting the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week we featured other Israeli organizations racing to find solutions.