LARIF has teamed up with Australian biomedical company, 4DMedical, and University of Adelaide scientists Associate Professor David Parsons and Dr Martin Donnelly to address the COVID-19 crisis, through testing a novel ventilator, the now patented 4DMedical ‘XV technology’, and a large animal model of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

Associate Professor David Parsons and Dr Martin Donnelly in the LARIF Cath Lab

The NCRIS-enabled facilities and expertise at the Large Animal Research and Imaging Facility (LARIF) NIF Node, located in the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), were utilised by a consortium of doctors, engineers, and medical researchers as part of the Australian Lung Health Initiative (ALHI).

The global COVID-19 crisis has increased pressure on healthcare systems and identified potential shortages in essential equipment, including ventilators. Typically, intubation and ventilation of patients requires admission to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a specialised hospital, due to constant and complex care requirements. In rural and remote regions, low socioeconomic areas or countries with high COVID-19 case numbers, there may be shortages or inadequate access to ventilators and specialist medical staff. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, a team of Australian scientists produced a ground-breaking, simple to use ‘field ventilator’ that can be locally produced at a low cost from easily acquired parts. Preclinical testing of the ventilator was performed in the LARIF multipurpose fluoroscopy laboratory.

I’m actually sincerely hoping no-one uses it, which is the funny thing to say about putting so much time and effort into it. But it has become clear no one could build them fast enough or cheap enough to supply in large numbers to places that are not as fortunate as the great hospitals we have in Australia.

Professor Fouras, CEO of 4DMedical, said of the device

A large animal model of ARDS was also devised and tested, using fluoroscopic imaging and 4DMedical’s patented XV technology to assess lung ventilation in pig and sheep models.

LARIF is also home to the Permetium scanner (powered by 4DMedical’s XV LVASTM technology), which was installed in late 2019 and is being used for small animal respiratory research.

“It is a privilege to contribute to such important work”, said Miss Georgia Williams, NIF Facility Fellow at the LARIF Node. “The field ventilator is such an amazing achievement, where a group of highly motivated and intelligent engineers, researchers and clinicians were able to collaborate to very quickly develop something that could have a huge impact in Australia and abroad.”

This story was contributed by the LARIF NIF Node. For further information, please contact Georgia Williams.