Respinor goes right to the top in Europe, and receives 26 million kroner (NOK) (3M€) from the EU’s Horizon2020 program of support for innovative small and medium-sized businesses in the health and biotech industry. Respinor has developed an ultrasound-based monitoring of the diaphragm in patients on ventilators called DiaMon.
The specific Horizon2020 program received 237 applications, of which only six were supported and Norwegian company Respinor was ranked number one. The company will use the EU funding to develop a market ready product and to conduct a clinical study in phase II of DiaMon, which will take place in France, the Netherlands, Italy and Norway.
“It’s incredibly great to go all the way among so many applicants worldwide. I think it is because we are addressing a real medical need and have a solution that can save society huge expenses. The 26 million will fund a large clinical trial of DiaMon in 2018 involving over 600 patients on ventilators”, says Respinor CEO, Nicolay Berard-Andersen.
DiaMon uses a sensor that measures movement of the diaphragm in patients who are on ventilators, that is, patients whose breathing is assisted in the intensive care unit. As the diaphragm is the main muscle that helps make the vital action that is breathing, it is essential to know what is happening with these patients’ who need help to breathe. This is not done at present.
“A patient who is on the ventilator and getting help to breathe will eventually recover to a stage where they can do without this help. Knowing when the patient should be taken off the ventilator is a critical process in which our product can provide critical information”, said Berard-Andersen.
It costs about 13,500 NOK (€1500) extra a day to have a patient on a ventilator. With DiaMon, the attending doctors will get information on whether patients can breathe on their own, and if they can be taken off the ventilator earlier.
“To get help to breathe through a ventilator is absolutely necessary when patients cannot breathe sufficiently on their own. Yet this help is associated with a risk of damage to the lungs, pneumonia and weakening of the muscles. It is therefore an aim to have patients off the ventilator as soon as possible. By monitoring the diaphragm, the doctor can get information about when the patient is able to breathe on their own”, says Berard-Andersen.
Reaping recognition and funds
The EU allocation of 26 million NOK is the latest of many good news for Respinor in the last six months. In autumn 2016 the company received seed money from Inven2, which together with private-matched capital totalled 6.5 million NOK. In December 2016, they received the additional support of 7.4 million NOK from the Norwegian Research Council Forny program to further develop the prototype DiaMon so that it can be CE-marked, a must for all medical-technical products. The company is also well underway with its first clinical study conducted at the pulmonary department at Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål in Oslo.
“In addition, we also previously received support from the EU program Eurostars and Innovation Norway. What is special about this latest allocation of 26 million NOK is that it does not need to be matched with private capital. The funds will be used for development of a market ready device and for clinical trials”, says Berard-Andersen.
Berard-Andersen is clear that good colleagues and special assistance from Oslo Medtech to write the EU application has been crucial to get as far as the company has done in its almost two year history.
“In the first instance, our focus is on developing this product for use in patients receiving breathing assistance via mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit. In the long term, our goal is to expand the use of DiaMon. We believe our product can make a positive contribution to people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sleep apnea, where breathing problems are part of the clinical picture”, says Berard-Andersen.
Facts about Respinor
CEO: Nicolay Berard-Andersen