UCL, UCLH and F1 team develop breathing aids

Engineers at UCL, UCLH and Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains have developed breathings aids which have been delivered to 40 NHS hospitals across the country.

The breathing aid device which has been developed is called the UCL-Ventura breathing aid.

The device is a low-flow Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device to treat Covid-19 patients.

CPAP devices were used in China and Italy to help patients breathe more easily.

UK hospitals found the devices to be in short supply and so engineers at UCL and Mercedes-AMG reverse engineered the device.

It is said by UCL that the device has been developed in a rapid timeframe – taking fewer than 100 hours to produce the first device.

The first device, the Mark I device, has already been replaced with the Mark II device which is said to use 70% less oxygen than its predecessor.

The device has been delivered to hospitals in line with demand after undergoing patient evaluations at UCLH.

250 volunteers from G-TEM, an automotive manufacturing company, are procuring and assembling the patient kits that accompany the Mercedes-AMG HPP produced CPAP flow device at a facility in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, and hand-delivering the kits and CPAP devices to hospitals.

More than 1,000 units have been delivered so far.

UCLH Chief Executive Marcel Levi said:

“This is another example of teamwork as the NHS, universities and industry come together to provide creative solutions that can be applied immediately.

“UCLH is very proud to work with UCL and HPP to bring a major healthcare innovation to patients worldwide.”

Professor Bryan Williams, Director of the Biomedical Research Centre at UCLH, said:

“In my view, the application of CPAP to aid breathing through devices like this has been a game-changer and has saved more lives than anything else during the Covid19 outbreak in the UK.

“It has also unburdened our ventilator requirement, enabling the NHS to cope more effectively, and has allowed many patients to recover without needing ventilation.”

UCLH critical care consultant Professor Mervyn Singer (UCL Medicine) said:

“We have seen the UCL-Ventura help hundreds of patients with Covid-19 breathe more easily.

“Deployed across the NHS hospital network, this device will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a precious resource, are used only for the most severely ill.

“We and others are finding that a significant proportion of patients treated with CPAP can avoid mechanical ventilation and recover more quickly as a result.

“The latest version of the device is much more oxygen efficient – in most patients, it requires little more oxygen than a ventilator.

“This is important, given there were concerns over oxygen supplies in some hospitals treating Covid-19 patients.” 

UCL state that:

‘After a Government order for up to 10,000, the CPAP devices were manufactured at the HPP technology centre in Brixworth, Northamptonshire.

‘Forty machines that would normally produce F1 pistons and turbochargers were used for production of the CPAP devices, and the entire Brixworth facility was repurposed to meet this demand.’