42T will be responsible for the design and development of the control unit, monitoring and alarm system for the new medical ventilator including system hardware, firmware and regulatory compliance. The consultancy’s medical device engineers will then work with the development and manufacturing teams at Portsmouth Aviation, along with clinicians from the Exovent charity, to integrate the control system into the ventilator.
Simon Escott, managing director of Portsmouth Aviation said: “42 Technology will play a pivotal role in developing the control system for the Exovent ventilator, and their medical device engineering and regulatory experience will be essential in helping us to advance it into initial production and first clinical trials.
“42 Technology’s appointment follows a complete review of the development programme and series of improvements that we decided to make to the initial designs for the new ventilator. We have worked closely with the team at Exovent to improve key aspects including the usability and aesthetics of the patient enclosure, noise levels and the seals around the patient. We have also modified the design so units can be more easily and cost-effectively manufactured using our existing in-house production technologies and teams.”
The Exovent NPV system is being developed as a lightweight device that encloses the patient’s torso from neck to hips. The system allows patients to talk, drink and eat normally while being ventilated.
Positive pressure ventilators (PPV) are widely used but come with drawbacks that may be addressed by NPVs.
Traditional PPV systems require patients to be sedated and intubated or to have a tracheostomy to bypass the oral-nasal route for breathing. However, PPV systems can reduce cardiac output, potentially resulting in hypotension, and increase the risk of ventilator-associated lung injuries or pneumonia due to intubation.
NPV is said to more closely mimic ‘natural breathing’, potentially offering clinical advantages. It does not necessitate tracheal intubation and minimises the likelihood of adverse cardiovascular events and barotrauma.
Furthermore, studies have indicated that a modern NPV device, particularly one with a torso-only cabinet, could present a more patient-friendly alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure systems (CPAP) that typically require patients to wear a mask.
The Exovent NPV system was first proposed and designed by a group of anaesthetists, critical care consultants, medical clinicians, engineers and others who set up a task force in March 2020 in response to COVID-19.
The government’s initiative was subsequently disbanded but the volunteers continued their work by setting up the Exovent charity to help raise awareness of the potential benefits of NPV.
The charity transferred its initial system designs to Portsmouth Aviation in 2021, and the Exovent NPV system is now being developed by a strategic partnership between the company and the charity. Portsmouth Aviation will manufacture the device but will use its subsidiary healthcare company, Illustrious Healthcare Solutions, for marketing and sales.