CALIFORNIA – NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California has picked eight US manufacturers from a list of 100 applicants to make a new ventilator tailored for coronavirus (Covid-19) patients.

The prototype, which was created by JPL engineers in just 37 days, received an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on April 30, NASA said.

Called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), the high-pressure ventilator was designed to use one-seventh the parts of a traditional ventilator, relying on parts already available in supply chains.

It offers a simpler, more affordable option for treating critical patients while freeing up traditional ventilators for those with the most severe COVID-19 symptoms. Its flexible design means it also can be modified for use in field hospitals.

The Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships at Caltech, which owns the patents and software for VITAL, is offering a free license for the device. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

The U.S. companies selected for licenses are Vacumed, a division of Vacumetrics, Inc. in Ventura, California; Stark Industries, LLC in Columbus, Ohio; MVent, LLC, a division of Minnetronix Medical, in St. Paul, Minnesota; iButtonLink, LLC in Whitewater, Wisconsin; Evo Design, LLC in Watertown, Connecticut; DesignPlex Biomedical, LLC in Fort Worth, Texas; ATRON Group, LLC in Dallas; and Pro-Dex, Inc. in Irvine, California.

“The VITAL team is very excited to see their technology licensed,” said Leon Alkalai, manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Partnerships and a member of the VITAL leadership team. “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.”

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JPL now is evaluating international manufacturers from countries as diverse as Brazil, Mexico, India, and Malaysia.

VITAL was developed with input from doctors and medical device manufacturers. A prototype of the JPL device was successfully tested by the Human Simulation Lab in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Mount Sinai on April 23.

“VITAL performed well in simulation testing with both precise and reproducible results,” said Dr. Tisha Wang, clinical chief of the UCLA Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

“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.” –