Digitizing every breath

A Russian digital platform featuring a datacenter and a range of smart devices can efficiently detect and cure COVID-19 pneumonia and other diseases

In early 2021, the Moscow-based Center for Scientific Production, Innovation, and Implementation, a participant of the NTI and Skolkovo resident, expects to put in production new medical devices of their own design.
‘We will manufacture four types of devices: an inhaler, injector, stethoscope, and spirometer (an apparatus for measuring the volume of air inspired and expired by the lungs)’, says the Center’s director Oleg Abdiyev. ‘For now, we are running small-batch production in-house, but we would not like to concentrate on the production process. For us, it is most important to supply the system with a wider range of devices to improve the doctor’s capabilities. The serial production is being organized by our industrial partner at a plant not far from Moscow. The output will cover our pilot products.’

A calculated cure

The new devices are part of a unique digital platform that is being developed at the Center. It also includes a range of drugs (injections, pills, and sprays), software, and a data center. Back in August, the Center has successfully registered its medical devices with Roszdravnadzor, Russia’s supervising healthcare authority.
‘Our smart devices register every medicine intake with the cloud, noting who took it, at what time, and in what dosage. This data is wrapped in several layers of protection and is only accessible with an electronic signature. Such information is vital to doctors’, explains Abdiyev. ‘Moreover, we are working with pharmaceutical companies to enable them to manufacture drugs exactly the way they are required for our platform. These are cartridges, pills, etc. Our inhalers are cartridge-based, and therefore don’t require patients to follow exact recipes. It vastly improves the effectiveness of therapy, even at home.’

The smart inhaler designed at the Center

The Center’s digital devices are designed for both hospital environments and home care. With the connectivity module, prices will range between 3 and 10 thousand rubles (roughly US$40-130).
‘We think that an average household with a chronically ill patient can afford our devices,’ notes the Center’s director. ‘Our most conservative estimates show TAM of over 10 billion rubles (roughly US$130M) a year for the types of illnesses that our devices are aimed at, like COVID-19 pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, and cardiovascular diseases. Soon we will launch pilots in hospitals in several regions of Russia. We are also looking at foreign markets and patenting our research abroad because our devices have no direct competition. Our priority markets are Europe and South-East Asia. We are also working closely with some US universities on the scientific component where we are researching new drug delivery mechanisms, including COVID-19 treatments.’

Grannies to the left, athletes to the right

The crucial element of the Center’s digital platform is the smart inhaler capable of correctly dosing the medicine and reporting to the doctor. Unlike regular inhalers, the new device ensures precise control over both the dosage and delivery rate. With regular inhalers, between 25 and 65% of the administered dosage settles on the intubation tube or upper airways, never reaching the inflamed area. Additionally, the new device works discretely, only supplying the spray when the patient draws a breath. This enables supplying the exact amount of medicine, as prescribed by the doctor, as well as using occasionally expensive drugs more sparingly.
‘As modern inhalers distribute their contents, some amount of liquid may evaporate. Thus, the quality of the resulting spray differs from the beginning to the end of the inhalation. Precisely controlling the device, we stabilize the whole process’, explains Abdiyev. ‘The system counts every breath and, with that, can calculate the exact administered dose. With a regular inhaler topped up by 10 ml, the resulting administered dose will be different for a grannie and, say, a professional athlete. The former’s air intake is shallow, while the latter draws deep, powerful breaths. With our device, both will receive the exact amount prescribed by their doctors, just over different time calculated based on their individual breathing characteristics.’
According to the Center’s director, the company intends to expand its platform with other smart medical gear, including devices that monitor a patient’s state during therapy, e.g., taking various forms of medication.

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