UK-based Camcon Medical has sought to transform the way medical oxygen is delivered to patients suffering from respiratory failure through its Binary Actuation Technology (BAT) valve technology.

Claimed by the CAMCON group’s founder, Professor Wladyslaw Wygnanski, to be the first new medicinal gas delivery device for oxygen in 100 years, the technology allows for ‘unprecedented’ oxygen delivery speed, an advantage which could see Camcon Medical’s technology deployed for Covid-19 patients. 

The patented BAT valve technology acts as a rapid and precise on/off switching device of liquid or gas, needing a very short electric pulse to switch a valve between ‘open’ and ‘close’. 

With BAT technology having been utilised in the oil and gas and automotive industry, Camcon Medical has modified the valve to be used as a medical oxygen delivery device, alleviating oxygen shortage across both acute and chronic respiratory failure. 

Commenting on the use of BAT in oxygen supply, Danny Chapchal, Chairman, Camcon Medical, explained, “It uses advanced engineering to deliver precise amounts of medicinal gases, such as oxygen, at the optimal time in each inhalation to allow added oxygen to reach the best areas of the lung for oxygen uptake.” 

“Its aim as a fully automated delivery system is to reduce the work of clinicians in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and, in future, enable patients to use the device at home.” 

Intending to ‘radically change’ how oxygen is provided to support patients suffering from respiratory failure, Camcon Medical sees the device as being a solution to help patients suffering respiratory failure due to SARS-CoV-2 infection problems, pneumonia and COPD. 

How does the technology work? 

The device, known as the BiMOD, features dual valves developed from the company’s original single valve prototype, Intelligent Medical Oxygen Delivery (iMOD), Camcon Medical’s first medical device to use the BAT valve. 

The BiMOD delivers oxygen along with nitric oxide, a powerful pulmonary artery vasodilator. This simultaneous gas delivery reaches the lung and allows for enhanced blood flow and greater oxygen uptake. 

Professor Tim Higenbottam, Clinical and Scientific Advisor to Camcon Medical, commented on the function of the technology, saying that the device’s key physiological step is enabled through the precision in timing and dose of the two gases. 

He continued, “At Camcon Medical we believe that we can reduce the high mortality resulting from illnesses like Covid-19, pneumonia and other forms of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) by delaying and avoiding invasive mechanical ventilation of such patients.” 

“Our focus is to enhance gas exchange in the ‘injured’ lung using the two gases.” 

Advantages of BiMOD over existing IMV treatment 

BiMOD’s automatic gas delivery and ability to sense and monitor the patient’s oxygen needs can delay or prevent the need for a patient to undergo Invasive Mechanical Ventilation (IMV), according to Higenbottam. 

During the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, IMV was a go-to treatment for patients suffering respiratory failure. The inherently invasive nature of the procedure means that patients’ lungs are forced open rather than targeting areas which are still functional. 

This requires the patient to be sedated and constantly monitored by hospital staff and, partially due to the additional lung tissue damage, results in a mortality rate of 40%. 

Other methods of oxygen delivery, such as nasal canula (HNFO) or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) fails to avoid the need for mechanical ventilation according to NICE findings, with CPAP capable of causing additional lung injury. 

Higenbottam explained why the BiMOD device also reduces oxygen waste and can reduce the company’s carbon footprint, “About 2/3 of oxygen is wasted for patients receiving oxygen.” 

“If you consider the high flow rate of 75 litres a minute for some patients receiving constant oxygen, that is around 50 litres per minute being wasted, per patient.” 

“That’s bad for the balance books of the NHS and bad for the environment given the carbon footprint of producing medical grade oxygen,” he said. 

He added that the precise and efficient nature of BiMOD’s oxygen delivery system could also reduce the pressure on industries stretched to breaking point due to Covid or Brexit-induced supply chain complications. 

“4.5m patients worldwide use long term oxygen therapy and 15,000 patients in UK hospitals receive oxygen therapy every day. That is a huge footprint,” he concluded. 

Alternative applications of BiMOD technology 

With potential for a wide range of industrial applications, Wygnanski explained that the characteristics of the device’s technology lends itself to both the gas and cryogenics industry. 

Commenting on the BAT valves, he said, “The conditional non-stable option can be active above or below a certain physical limit (temperature, pressure etc) as a self-triggered action without any electric pulse from a controller, hence it can be used a self-activating protection system in power fail or flat battery conditions.” 

“A zero current multi-valve matrix option represents any complex gas or liquid distribution network, which may stay unchanged on power failed condition or it may disconnect only preselected sections.” 

With safe distribution resumed following the restoration of mains electricity, the technology could be used to control any large gas or liquid distribution network. 

The plan going forward… 

Chapchal explained that the technology will be prioritised to treat Covid-19-induced pneumonia and other forms of ARDS, before moving on to investigate ambulatory care of chronic respiratory failure, such as patients living with COPD who require a constant home-based oxygen supply. 

He added, “Essentially we want to help people living with chronic lung conditions live a fuller life where they can move around and take part in a greater number of activities rather than being confined to a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.” 

“The main advantages of the technology is its ability to be automated and to respond to the exact oxygen requirements of the patient, acting like the clinician in choosing precise timing and precise delivery flow rates and precise doses.” 

This emphasis on precision could help improve patient outcomes and decrease the workload of clinical staff in a hospital setting. 

Camcon Medical sees the BiMOD technology as an opportunity to utilise machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) for gas delivery, as well as help merge gas production and distribution industries with the healthcare sector to mitigate respiratory failure caused by Covid-19 and other medical conditions. 

Concluding, the team added, “The BiMOD can learn certain daily routines of its owner or patient to predict gas supply in the most effective manner but it would require a comprehensive research programme in cooperation with leading medical centres.” 

Providing suitable investors are found the company aims to scale up manufacture and to be ready for mass production within two years.