For roughly 15 years, BioMedInnovations (BMI) was focused on developing perfusion technologies to help preserve organs for transplants. But that was before March – before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Now the Morrisville, NC-based company has switched its focus to developing ventilators. In June FDA granted BMI, emergency use authorization for the low-cost SuppleVent ventilator. MD+DI spoke with BMI’s CEO Sherif Gabriel about the technology and the decision to go in a different direction. He noted that the company switched at the drop of a dime and there was complete buy-in from its engineers.
“When COVID-19 hit, we quickly came to the realization along with one of our partners Equilibar that’s based in Asheville, NC, that the heart or core of our perfusion technology – a back pressure regulator, can also be used to move gas just as easily as it does to move fluid,” Gabriel told MD+DI.
He added, “the technology … allows for very safe delivery of high-pressure gas to a lung without over-pressurizing. In essence, it prevents any damage that can occur or potentially prevent any of the damage that can occur from achieving very high pressures.”
The company has found an ally in NASCAR and motorsports to help build components for the ventilator. BMI said it is working with Roush Yates Manufacturing, a division of Roush Yates Engines and NASCAR racing teams Joe Gibbs Racing to complete this endeavor.
BMI Scopes Out Ventilator Market
When the virus first began spreading there were concerns of a ventilator shortage (Editor's Note: those concerns have since been abated) . This concern prompted a number of companies to step up and make bold moves in the space.
Fitbit, which is in the process of being acquired by Google for $2.1 billion, won EUA for its low-cost emergency ventilator in late June.
Medtronic, a more traditional name associated with the devices, allowed other companies to use the design specs of an older model of its Puritan Bennett Ventilator to keep up with the demand for the devices.
Just prior to this move, the Dublin-based company had a discussion on Twitter with Elon Musk, that caught media attention, on how it might be able to work across industries to solve problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gabriel said there is a lot of competition in the space, but noted there is still a tremendous need for the technology because of the devastating effects of COVID-19.
“I think there is a need and that’s why you see the BMI’s, Fitbits, and perhaps others being able to address and meet the need,” Gabriel said. “Beyond that, I think it’s really incumbent upon us to get our device out into clinical hands and demonstrate its functionality.”