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Improving exhalation: device for COPD patients

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is characterized by the persistent narrowing of the airways, often leading to difficulties in breathing and panic attacks. In 2016 the innovative respiratory support device Vigaro received CE Mark approval. In contrast to current devices delivering high-intensity ventilation, Vigaro supports inhalation using only moderate pressure and exhalation occurs against dynamic resistance. Initially this concept may seem paradoxical, however this is the principle behind the pursed lip breathing technique that is naturally and intuitively implemented in those who have trouble breathing. During pursed lip breathing, exhalation occurs through lightly pressed or puckered lips in order to slow the pace of breathing. As a result, the airways remain open longer while breathing out, enabling prolonged exhalation in patients and preventing excess retention of air in the lungs. In particular, COPD patients who have had limited success with traditional breathing devices can benefit from this approach. In the early trials, patients could sleep better again, felt more energetic and could walk considerably longer distances thanks to the use of this new device. The cornerstone of this innovation was driven by the physician Dr Stephan Rüller and his team at the Research Center Borstel – Leibniz Center for Medicine and Biosciences (FZB). Ascenion supported him starting with the invention disclosure, through the initiation of the patent application and also negotiated the collaboration and license agreement with the medical device specialist FLO in order to successfully advance this approach to a market-ready product.