NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California has selected eight US manufacturers to produce its new ventilator, customised for coronavirus (Covid-19) patients.

Engineers from JPL have created the prototype in 37 days, which has been granted the Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in April 2020.

NASA’s JPL is managed by Caltech, whose office of technology transfer and corporate partnerships owns the patents and software for VITAL and is providing free license for the device.

The US companies selected for licenses include Vacumed, a division of Vacumetrics, Stark Industries, MVent, a division of Minnetronix Medical, iButtonLink, Evo Design, DesignPlex Biomedical, ATRON Group, and Pro-Dex.

JPL strategic partnerships office manager and member of the VITAL leadership team Leon Alkalai said: “The VITAL team is very excited to see their technology licensed. Our hope is to have this technology reach across the world and provide an additional source of solutions to deal with the on-going COVID-19 crisis.”

VITAL is a simple and affordable option for the treatment of critical patients

The Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally (VITAL) is a high-pressure ventilator designed to using only one-seventh of the parts used in a traditional ventilator, and can be created using parts already available in supply chains.

VITAL is said to offer a simple and affordable option for the treatment of critical patients, and provides access to traditional ventilators for patients with most severe Covid-19 symptoms. The flexible design allows it to be modified for use in field hospitals.

The modified design of the ventilator would leverage compressed air, and was recently tested at the UCLA Simulation Center in Los Angeles. A high-fidelity lung simulator tested 20 different ventilator settings, representing various scenarios in critically ill patients in an intensive care unit.

The compressed-air design has been submitted to the FDA for a ventilator Emergency Use Authorization and is currently under review.

UCLA division of pulmonary and critical care medicine clinical chief Tisha Wang said: “VITAL performed well in simulation testing with both precise and reproducible results. In addition, the setup and operation of the ventilator was quick and user-friendly.

“The UCLA team commends JPL for actively contributing to the COVID-19 response and successfully addressing one of the key medical needs in the sickest group of patients.”