Dr. Stephan Rüller, Susanne Greve, Dr. Christian Herzmann and FLO-Medizintechnik were awarded with the Innovation Transfer Prize 2020 of the Werner Petersen Foundation. The ceremony took place in Kiel on September 15th in presence of the Schleswig-Holstein Minister for Economy, Dr. Bernd Buchholz.
Lung function of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary lung disease (COPD) continuously declines. They suffer from airway inflammation which is most often induced by smoking or poor air quality. The lung structure of patients is altered and air gets trapped in the lungs while they breathe in. In consequence, inhalation has to be performed against a constant resistance. Gas exchange is limited.
Patients with severe COPD get oxygen-enriched air via ventilator at night. This relieves breathing musculature and improves gas exchange at least temporary. However, it is known that patients who received long-term ventilation suffer even more from trapped air. In order to prevent this, Dr. Stephan Rüller and Susanne Greve from the Sleep Laboratory of the Research Center Borstel and FLO-Medizintechnik, a company producing ventilators, conceived of an innovative strategy: They took an approved breathing technique into focus, ‘pursed-lip breathing’. Performing this procedure, patients breathe out through pursed lips. As air leaves the lungs more slowly, a constant pressure is sustained for a longer time and lung alveoli don’t collapse. Thus, more air can leave the lungs compared with fast exhalation and gas exchange improves.
Pursed-lip breathing can only performed by awake patients. Therefore, the researchers translated it into a novel concept that can be used with sleeping patients: They programmed a ventilator with a pressure course similar to the one during pursed-lip breathing.
The Werner Petersen Foundation rewarded this creative transfer with one of two Innovation Transfer Prizes 2020. The ceremony took place in Kiel’s Geomar Research Center on September 15th in presence of the Schleswig-Holstein Minister for Economy, Dr. Bernd Buchholz. The Prize money (20.000 €) is split between the researchers from Borstel and FLO-Medizintechnik from Melle.
First promising results show that capacity and mobility of patients get better already after short treatment. “The start-up period for patients in the morning after the morning low at the end of night-time ventilation gets shortened”, explains PD Dr. Christian Herzmann, who is scientifically exploring the effectiveness of the ventilator. “Probably, patients are faster in readiness for their daily tasks.”
At present, scientists systematically investigate the new machine in a DZL-funded study. Apart from Research Center Borstel, patients are included at LungenClinic Grosshansdorf, Thoraxklinik Heidelberg, Städtisches Klinikum Dortmund, Hannover Medical School, Fachkliniken Wangen, and Lungenfachklinik Hemer. Until now, more than 70 patients participated. Results will be available in two years.
DZL regards awarding of the Innovation Transfer Prize as a confirmation of its work.