Novel Airway-Clearing Technology Shows Potential in Adolescent Patients With COPD, Other Respiratory Diseases

December 6, 2019
Matthew Gavidia
Matthew Gavidia

A novel device that unblocks and removes secretions from the respiratory tracts of children was developed by researchers in Israel and the United States, and may prove beneficial among patients with respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

A novel device that unblocks and removes secretions from the respiratory tracts of children was developed by researchers in Israel and the United States, and may be expanded in use among patients with respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

As part of a collaboration between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Soroka University Medical Center, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and the University of Cincinnati (UC), researchers sought to address the lack of medical devices designed for children. The goal of the collaboration was to improve health outcomes by ensuring a device design that is customized to meet a child's unique physiology and medical needs.

David Katoshevski, PhD, professor at the BGU Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology and one of the developers of the device, highlighted the fact that, “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.”

As BGN Technologies, BGU's technology-transfer company, announced this week, researchers developed a technology that will operate by introducing air pressure and acoustic pulses into the airway and lungs over a low-pressure airstream. By doing this, a combination of low-frequency flow oscillations and high-frequency acoustic waves will simultaneously detach phlegm from the airway wall and remove it by breaking down or agglomerating mucus chunks.

In a series of lab tests on simulated human airways and lungs, Ephraim Gutmark, PhD, professor at the UC College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, noted that the device’s combination of air pulsation and acoustic waves was shown to be effective. "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," said Gutmark. The focus of these devices in removing airway secretions can assist in treatment attributed to respiratory diseases associated with mucus production, such as bronchiolitis, asthma, COPD, and bronchiectasis.

Improving treatment of respiratory diseases in children has become a growing concern, as a report by the CDC suggested that education and severity control of asthma has declined, causing heightened rates of emergency department visits. By expanding on unmet needs within adolescent care, researchers can continue to promote innovation. Netta Cohen, MBA, CEO of BGN Technologies, described the next steps after the initial lab test success.

“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," said Cohen.