New medical wizards in making

An electronics engineer by profession Nitesh Jangir, developed two medical devices - one that assists babies in breathing and another that helps prevent ventilator-related infections. In an interview with ME&A, Nitesh Jangir, Co-Founder, Coeo Labs talks about the invention of both these devices and their uses.

What is Coeo Labs and how did it come into existence?

Coeo Lab is a medical technology company based in Bangalore, here we develop cutting edge devices to address critical unmet healthcare needs in India and emerging markets. We develop products that are one-of-the-kind in the field of emergency and critical care. Coeo Lab was formed in October 2014. The idea of starting this came when we did a clinical program with InnAccel. InnAccel has developed a portfolio of novel medical devices designed engineered and priced for global emerging markets. InnAccel was running a medical device innovation program called AIM fellowship (Affordable Innovation in Medical Devices). We attended this fellowship program. During this program, we had to spend three months in hospital at the critical care department with doctors to observe and understand what are the biggest challenges faced by doctors while treating the critical patients. Also, we had to observe what are the techniques used by these doctors for the critical patients and also observe the current clinical practices they follow. While our observation at the hospital and critical care units, we invented two devices which can be used in critical situations and can be a boon to the medical device industry and that is how Coeo Labs came into existence.

What are those two devices and what are the uses?

During our observation at the critical unit at the hospital, we saw a patient – a 30-year old male, who was critical and was kept in ICU. He was supposed to be out of the ICU within 48-hours of admission. But due to few medical hazards, he was not out of the critical unit. The doctors said that they need to keep him under observation but the family could not afford the maintenance of keeping him in the ICU for longer duration. The patient had hospital-acquired pneumonia and hence took longer to get back to normal. After doing research and being at the hospital with doctors to know more about hospital-acquired pneumonia, we invented this product which is called VAPCare.

Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP) is the leading nosocomial cause of mortality in the ICU. The occurrence happens after 48-hours after endotracheal intubation of patients. As a result, mortality rates are 15-50 per cent higher in patients with VAP. Aspiration of colonised pathogenic microorganisms on the oropharynx and gastrointestinal tract is the main route for the development of VAP. This is a global problem faced by both developed and developing countries. VAPCare is a patented product from the US, China, Japan and India. This product took four-years to be available in the market. We started working on this product in December 2014 and we launched it in December 2018. VAPCare reduces chances of obtaining VAP by key functions as: Artificial Intelligence and sensor-based secretion management from three locations: Oral, Oropharyngeal, and Subglottic regions. Independent suction pressure control in each line. Automatic detection and management of port block. Automatic regular mouthwash and lavage and is compatible with all ET Tubes.

The second device is really close to our heart and it is called Saans: A neonatal CPAP device. This device is for premature babies and can work in any kind of environment. It is low-cost, multi powers, infrastructure independent. This device is designed in a pattern where it can work in the worst environment just for babies. Even in a low-income country, a well-designed bubble CPAP improves survival by 24 to 65 per cent. Unfortunately, a significant number of newborns especially premature babies do not have access to this technology during transport nor is electricity and skilled manpower widely available at these critical care units. Currently, all neonatal transport CPAP machines (including bubble CPAPs) require electrical power or compressed gases to function – neither of which is easily available in low-resource settings. But Saans can work with electricity and without electricity. It has got an in-built battery backup. This device can also work on a purely manual mode.

Talking about how Saans was invented, while on our observation in the critical care units, we found one pre-mature baby who had severe brain-damage injuries and had breathing problems. The doctors tried all possible ways to save the baby, but could not save her. That is when we thought of inventing a product which will help babies to breathe properly in worst situations so that when babies are being bought to the hospital, at least the doctors can try to save that life. This device can stand alone and work in any given situation. The complete idea of inventing Saans was no baby in this world should be deprived of the medical facilities or die in any given situation or lack of breathing support device. We started working on Saans project same as the VAPCare in December 2014 and we launched it recently with VAPCare in December 2018. After the launch of Saans, we had a case in the suburban area of Bangalore, where premature babies are brought for treatment. That hospital does not have enough infrastructure for treating babies. They lack compressed oxygen availability. After the invention of our Saans, they purchased this product from Coeo Lab and later they send us a message stating that because of Saans, they had saved a life. This hospital told us that the electric power had been cut off and that’s when the nurses started the manual mode of Saans and the baby was saved.

Coeo Labs’ product Saans is designed to provide CPAP in resource-constrained settings by multi-power mode including manual, minimum skill needed i.e. only one attender, aligned with various transport mode in India, user determined oxygen + air mixture and Passive humidification and such key functions.

Saans
Vap-Care

Where are these devices available and what is the cost of each device?

Both these devices, Saans and VapCare are available in markets for commercialisation. Till now we have sold a few devices from Coeo Labs to hospitals and clinics where intensive care is available for patients. The cost of both the devices is different when purchased from the market and different when purchased from our lab. We cannot share the exact amount or cost of the products. A proper marketing plan was made to sell these products. Currently, all the marketing skills are on top and these devices are generating good revenue.

Do you plan to make this device available for all PHC? What are your future plans?

Yes, we do have plans to make both Saans and VapCare available for all PHC and as we are an Indian company, so we have to first expand and scale up in India. We have to be present in all states of India and make sure that public and private healthcare providers know about the devices invented by Coeo Labs. Our plan includes making these devices available all over India till 2020 and then expand our base in the markets of Europe and the USA. Also, to make a firm base, we have planned a few more devices to help the healthcare sector which will be launched soon.