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Tucson-Based Respiratory Device Company SaiOx Inc. Partners with India Firm XrossFusion to Bring Oxygen-Saving Respiratory Device Technology to India Hospitals

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May 14, 2021


SaiOx Inc., the Tucson, Arizona company that developed the Hespiro™ helium-oxygen Respiratory Assist Device, a type of ventilator, to help treat patients with respiratory conditions including COPD and COVID-19, has partnered with XrossFusion, a medical device firm in India to deliver critical oxygen-saving respiratory equipment technology to hospitals in India.

The need is great because hospitals across India are struggling to provide oxygen to patients suffering with COVID due to a severe shortage of oxygen supplies in the country, according to reports from the BBC. The oxygen shortage has created a treatment crisis for hospitals. Many are unable to provide the life-saving oxygen their patients desperately need.

There have been more than a half-a-million deaths in India due to COVID. Public health professionals from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) project the possibility of a million deaths or more by August of this year. The scarcity of oxygen available to doctors and nurses treating COVID patients has made a difficult situation even worse.

According to SaiOx CEO Manny Teran, the goal is to enable XrossFusion to use SaiOx’s Hespiro™ technology to produce breathing assist devices for Indian hospitals so they are able to recycle exhaled oxygen and thereby reduce the rate of oxygen utilization by 28-fold. This means each oxygen tank lasts 28 times longer. Teran believes this could have a significant impact and save lives.

He and the SaiOx team are in active consultation with their counterparts at XrossFusion to work out specifics so that clinical studies, production and distribution in India by their XrossFusion partners can begin as soon as possible. XrossFusion is a joint venture between Samy Subbiah and Ravi Ganesh in Coimbatore, India. They were manufacturing and distributing breathing devices even before the pandemic started. Don Finkle, President and COO of SaiOx and an experienced executive who ran large scale manufacturing at various Fortune 500 companies, has been central to the supply chain deployment efforts.

The goal of this international technological collaboration is to help alleviate the oxygen shortage impacting Indian hospitals by using Hespiro™ technology. This is a low-pressure rebreather system that conserves exhaled oxygen and alleviates breathing effort through a low-pressure system with low density Heliox gas in lieu of a moderate-to-high pressure delivery system. Furthermore, the Hespiro™ technology protects front line workers from getting the virus by containing the patient’s contaminated air within the rebreathing circuit.

The technology at the heart of the Hespiro™ system was developed by Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy, MD, a University of Arizona professor of pulmonology, and Dr. Marvin Slepian, MD, a UA professor of medicine, cardiologist and co-founder of artificial heart maker SynCardia Systems.
In early 2020, CEO Teran and his team began working with Dr. Parthasarathy and the technology commercialization team at Tech Launch Arizona, or TLA, the UA commercialization office, to advance development of the Hespiro™ system, designed to help treat patients with respiratory conditions, including COPD and COVID-19, while reducing the need for scarce mechanical ventilators.

It not only delivers a mixture of helium and oxygen, but it captures exhaled gas and scrubs it free of carbon dioxide in a completely closed “rebreather” system. While not a replacement for a mechanical ventilator, inventor Dr. Parthasarathy says the SaiOx system helps patients who can still breathe on their own to breathe much more easily.

Through TLA, the University of Arizona was awarded the patent for the invention in August 2020; the university then licensed the intellectual property to SaiOx for advancement. The startup has been working closely with the FDA to get approval for the U.S. market.

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