ONR Global awards research grant to produce low-cost ventilators for use by hospitals in São Paulo

ONR Global awards research grant to produce low-cost ventilators for use by hospitals in São Paulo

Jul 10 2020

Brazil has been one of the most affected countries in the world by COVID-19. A group of researchers led by Prof. Marcelo Zuffo and Prof. Raul Lima from the Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo received US $ 199,943 for one year from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global. The project is co-funded by ONR’s Warfighter Performance Department.

While the project aims to study local lung tissue damage caused by driving pressure, the overall goal is to produce low-cost ventilators for use by hospitals in São Paulo. The initial batch of 40 ventilators will be supplied to local hospitals.

The high mortality rate of COVID-19 pandemic is associated with a secondary condition, ARDS [Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome], which demands precise protective pulmonary maneuvers promoted through lung ventilators. Particularly, in this proposal, we have designed an open-source, low-cost emergency lung ventilator named INSPIRE. INSPIRE is built from off-the-shelf components widely available, including high-end microcomputers based on the Single Board Computer (SBC) approach.”

Prof. Marcelo Zuffo, Researcher, Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo

The research grant awarded by ONR Global is titled, “Relation of Driving Pressure in ARDS and Local Lung Tissue Damage under COVID-19 Pandemic through Cyber Physical Emergency Lung Ventilators.” While it has immediate applicability, the comprehension of how to approach ARDS through mechanical ventilation is a relevant long-term research line.

There is a concern that simply connecting a patient to a ventilator without close monitoring is causing lung tissue damage, which may be the main cause of death. The proposed cyber-physical ventilator will also enable the doctor to monitor the patient remotely. In addition, the ventilator will be made as portable as possible to use in the operations theater for injured warfighters.  Solar power is being considered for use in the field, where conventional electrical power may not be available.”

Paul Sundaram, ONR Global Brazil Science Director

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He added, on the potential applicability for current needs in today’s society, “Ventilators are needed for the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-cost ventilators would lower hospital costs considerably and be easily accessible to public hospitals. Remote monitoring would enable the doctor to be more efficient in treating many patients at a time.”

Furthermore, the design of cyber-physical, open-source ventilators offers a unique opportunity to collect data in real time. Such data properly analyzed can enhance the survival rate of ICU COVID-19 patients.

“The applicability of such techniques is immediate, since COVID-19 is still spreading across the globe, and a significant number of humans can be benefited through such techniques,” said Zuffo.

ONR Global sponsors scientific efforts outside of the U.S., working with scientists and partners worldwide to discover and advance naval capabilities.


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