Libertine FPE (“Libertine”), the creator of Smart Engine technology for distributed power generation and electric vehicles, has temporarily turned its attention to the creation of a breathing aid for response to both COVID-19 and future respiratory diseases.
The project, supported by a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, aims to create a low-cost device suitable for deployment in UK care homes to reduce mortality due to COVID-19 infections during 2020, and to provide an effective early stage intervention to reduce mortality in subsequent annual flu seasons.
The device is similar to a sleep apnea machine and delivers continuous positive airway pressure device, providing two pressure levels to reduce breathing effort and assist exhalation.
Libertine usually focuses on smart engine technology, and it is the application of their lab-proven force-application linear actuator that enables a breathing aid with the necessary ‘smart’ control to deliver fine-tuned control of the air pressure and keep patients alive under challenging respiratory disease conditions.
A significant number of COVID-related deaths in the UK, EU and worldwide occur in care homes where elderly residents contract the disease but cannot be hospitalised due to a lack of capacity or the expectation of poor clinical outcomes from later stage medical interventions such as invasive ventilation. Recent studies have shown that the application of bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) respiratory support, using a device like the one Libertine is developing, can prevent a significant proportion of patients at an early stage of influenza-type respiratory diseases from progression to Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Says Sam Cockerill, CEO, Libertine: “A BiPAP device does not require patient sedation and invasive intubation, does not require the same degree of clinical skill and oversight, and does not rely on the availability of hospital services like main-ring oxygen supply. It may therefore represent a valuable early stage and low-cost intervention that can reduce case mortality and the hospital admission load associated with COVID-19 and similar respiratory diseases. All of us at Libertine are enthusiastic about being able to help using our engineering skills and the application of our existing technologies.”
The project is enabled through an Innovate UK Fast Start Competition which aims to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups.
Libertine staff return from furlough at the beginning of June to complete the four-month project.