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CIHR Proof-of-Principle Grant for First-in-Human Trials at Royal Columbian Hospital

Dr. Steve Reynolds, head of Critical Care and infectious diseases specialist at Royal Columbian Hospital, and Dr. Andy Hoffer, founder of Lungpacer Medical Inc., are collaborating to improve how intensive care units provide respiratory support for their sickest patients.

A $160,000 proof-of-principle Phase I grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) will fund their trial of a transvenous diaphragm pacing system (DPS).

The device, developed at SFU, is designed to protect the diaphragm muscle from rapid atrophy, or wasting, in mechanically ventilated, critically ill patients. The goal is to make respiratory support safer and more effective than existing respiratory therapies.

The Lungpacer DPS technology consists of a minimally invasive, temporary intravenous catheter that electrically activates the diaphragm to keep it strong while a patient remains on the mechanical ventilator.

Currently 30 per cent of ICU patients fail to wean from the ventilator and are at high risk of acquiring ventilator-induced lung injury, pneumonia and infections.

Hoffer says the Lungpacer approach aims to significantly improve patient-care outcomes and dramatically reduce health care costs by improving the patient’s chance of re-establishing diaphragm strength for a faster return to unassisted breathing.
Phase I clinical trials are the first in-human trials and will be monitored by the institutional research ethics boards and Health Canada.

“This work has a very real possibility of changing the way we conceptualize mechanical ventilation, the cornerstone of the modern critical care unit,” says Reynolds.

“We value the opportunity to work together. Andy has extensive knowledge in biomedical physiology, running a lab and developing medical devices. My work as a clinician keeps me grounded in the day-to-day running of a critical care unit, and helps to ensure that the development of the device and the research in general has a real world capability.”

The ongoing collaboration between Reynolds and Hoffer is strengthening the developing research community involving investigators from both Fraser Health and SFU, and is a potential model for future partnerships.

External Link: CIHR funds Lungpacer collaboration