One-Step Injection Device Could Help Save Comatose Diabetics
CREDIT: Purdue University
No room exists for panic when a diabetic falls into a coma or suffers seizures from low blood sugar, but even family members or friends may fumble with existing emergency kits. Now student entrepreneurs from Purdue University are perfecting a one-step injection device that makes it both easier and cheaper to administer life-saving treatment to diabetics.
Their startup, called LyoGo, has engineered a solution that can also eliminate problems plaguing the use of freeze-dried drugs or vaccines in developing countries where refrigeration may be nonexistent – not to mention make it easier to revive a comatose diabetic.
"There is no instruction for the random average person while the diabetic is unconscious on the ground or having a seizure," said Rush Bartlett, a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering at Purdue University and an MBA candidate at Indiana University. "We thought this was pretty crazy."
"We wanted to have something that's cheap, low-cost, and easy to use," Bartlett added in a phone interview with InnovationNewsDaily.
The one-step injector could also work for therapies such as cancer treatments, painkillers and even vaccines.
How it works
Many such therapies require refrigeration or need to be freeze-dried like astronaut ice cream, because they break down in liquid form at room temperature within a few hours. The more common freeze-dried solution needs to be mixed with liquid before injection.
First, the LyoGo founders had to figure out how to create a device that would balance being user friendly and keeping manufacturing costs down. Making an easy-to-use injector device that fits standard drug vials can be expensive, but making unique glass vials tailored to a user-friendly device can have similarly high costs.
The injector ended up looking like a capsule that keeps the freeze-dried drug separated from the mixing liquids in two chambers. That device also has its own container that prevents needle accidents and allows for safe disposal after use.
"From the user perspective, taking off the cap is what mixes the drug," Bartlett said. "Most people will see that as basically opening the package."
Bartlett and his colleagues also decided to make only minimal modifications to their devices drug vials so such vials could be manufactured at existing factories. Their device can also be filled by the same facilities that fill existing drug vials.
Some freeze-dried therapies, such as vaccines with live virus strains, still require some refrigeration. But the student innovators expressed confidence that the injector could either drastically reduce or eliminate refrigeration for many the drugs or vaccines.
Cheap drugs for all
A typical syringe vial may cost between 30 to 60 cents, while the LyoGo device may drop as low as $1 after scaling up manufacturing.
But the LyoGo founders expect their device to boost overall healthcare savings by eliminating many refrigeration needs. They also hope to boost patient compliance and sell more quantities by offering the better product. The net savings come from overall use, according to Peter Greco, an MBA from Purdue University.
That doesn't include the huge health impact that the device could have by enabling use of more drugs or vaccines by untrained users across the world. Potential candidates for the LyoGo approach include a wide spread of drugs and vaccines, including treatments for cancer and hepatitis. Pain-dulling morphine and fertility drugs also make the list.
"We've identified somewhere around a couple hundred [drug or vaccine] compounds," Greco said. "There are at least 200."
Such a strong innovation has helped LyoGo attract funding from NASA, as well as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But Bartlett, Greco, and Art Chlebowski – a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering at Purdue – have already begun talking private investment with strategic partners, angel investors and venture capitalists.
"We'll probably be on the market within 18 months to 3 years, depending on development," Greco said.
LyoGo represents one of 15 student teams or start-ups showcased in the Open Minds competition hosted by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance in partnership with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. The public event took place at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., on March 26.
This article was provided by InnovationNewsDaily, a sister site of TechNewsDaily.