A new negative pressure ventilation assistance device using knowledge developed by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group during the Covid-19 pandemic looks set to go into mass production thanks to a new partnership with Indian based ventilator manufacturer Skanray.
The non-invasive Marshall Exovent-19 prototype negative pressure ventilation assistance device was developed to provide additional treatment options for any patient with respiratory failure, including those with COVID-19, with the benefit of offering greater patient comfort as they don’t need to be asleep or have an artificial airway in place.
Marshall has shipped two of its protoype exovent machines designed and manufactured at its Cambridge headquarters, direct to Skanray who hopes to be able to use them, along with the supporting design information to develop a relatively low cost production model that can be rapidly approved and developed for mass distribution as quickly as possible. Once approved by the relevant regulatory bodies, the device will have wider applications beyond COVID for the treatment of patients with other respiratory conditions.
MADG Chief Engineer Mark Johnston explains:
“We were approached early on in the pandemic by the exovent Task Force of academics and medics who had come up with the idea of developing a non-invasive, negative pressure ventilator to help address the potential shortage of ventilators for Covid-19 patients.
“We very quickly saw the massive benefits that the exovent could deliver and took the decision to offer up the services of our engineering and on-site manufacturing teams to help develop the concept into a fully functioning product.
“This involved the rapid understanding of the medical drivers that would make this a success. We very quickly came up with a prototype that allowed the medical team to gain first-hand experience of a realistic unit. That was a really great feat, from the start to the point at which the medics were able to get their hands on it was about four weeks in total.
“We could not have done that without the skills of our engineering and manufacturing teams working closely together. With the great feedback from that prototype we then matured the product and built four pre-production units that have gone through some stringent testing. These ranged from tests to ensure that the product does not interfere with other critical medical devices to how it can be effectively cleaned; both really important in an intensive care setting.
“We were really lucky to be working with a number of very well respected frontline doctors and nurses and throughout the programme to deliver a product that is ready for mass manufacture once all of the clinical approval has been completed.
“We are delighted to be able to hand the project over to Skanray and are optimistic that, using their existing expertise in large volume ventilator manufacture, they will be able to achieve a product that not only has all the advantages in terms of patient comfort and recovery but will also be affordable for use in developing nations that might take some time to roll-out the vaccine.
“Everyone here at Marshall is incredibly proud of the contribution that we have made in making the exovent a reality and it is a great, albeit very different, example of the work we do to help protect people in critical situations.”
Dr Malcolm Coulthard, from the exovent team, said:
“We firmly believe that the use of negative pressure devices can transform the patient journey for COVID-19 patients and those with pneumonia and other diseases that affect breathing. We are incredibly grateful to Marshall for deploying their significant expertise and skills to help realise our vision.”
Marshall is also hoping to secure a similar arrangement with a UK based manufacturer in the coming weeks.