Innovation Against Corona

Medical professionals around the world are fighting the threat of corona with all means at their disposal: Researchers and developers are working on solutions to contain the Covid 19 pandemic – and treat patients. Innovations in medical technology from Central Hessen are contributing to this. 

The fight against the corona pandemic requires lateral thinking and innovation. Credit: Natali_ Mis/

Around the world, there is a lack of suitable respiratory equipment to treat multiple severe Covid-19 cases simultaneously. Now a team from the Philipps University of Marburg and the University Hospital Gießen and Marburg (UKGM) has developed two concepts for simple ventilators in a very short time. The big advantage is that the devices can be produced quickly and relatively inexpensively. They thus create capacity in clinics that no longer have sufficient regular ventilation stations.

The idea for the first concept came from the Sleep Medical Center in Marburg and its treatment approach of sleep apnea. The so-called CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device is already available in many private households. The Marburg team, led by the physicist Prof. Dr. Martin Koch, has now expanded the CPAP devices with components for around 50 euros so that they can be used for artificial respiration. These devices are suitable for people who are already on the path to recovery and need less intensive ventilation; this is because the modified CPAP devices are not as powerful as professional ventilators. They are not, therefore, suitable for the initial treatment of acute, severe corona patients with severe respiratory distress. In such cases, clinical ventilators must be used. But by using the modified devices, clinical ventilation places can be freed up again for acute cases. The first prototypes are already running and have been assessed very positively by relevant physicians of the University Hospital Marburg. To support the production of these devices, the Fritz Winter Iron Foundry in Stadtallendorf will build the first series in a training workshop.

Fast Help from Emergency Resuscitation Bags

For countries where CPAP devices are not widespread, the team is currently developing simple devices based on so-called “Ambu Bags” as a second approach. These “Ambu Bags,” or resuscitation bags, are used in first aid and are available in large quantities at low cost. They consist of a mask that is pressed onto the face and a compressible bag that is compressed by hand at regular intervals for ventilation. The Middle Hessen research team is now developing mechanical devices to periodically compress the bags. The experts want to make all technical information and construction instructions publicly available, thus creating the possibility that the devices can be reproduced in large numbers worldwide. “Our senior physicians confirm that the developed devices would be used as a ‘last line of defense’ for ventilation if there was no other option,” says Prof. Dr. Harald Renz, Medical Director of the Marburg University Hospital. 

Biotech for Faster Tests

However, the fight against the coronavirus is also supported by innovations from a small company from the Europaviertel in Giessen: With strips of paper not much bigger than a match, Milenia Biotec GmbH hopes to make its contribution against the Covid 19 pandemic. The company developed rapid tests back in 2003. Since then, these tests have enabled evidence of a broad range of conditions: everything from pregnancies to beverage contamination – but also the coronavirus. And the faster an infection can be detected, the faster these patients can be isolated. But Milenia Biotec does not produce finished corona tests: Instead, these strips are a tool from which experts can develop different tests. “The customers need know-how for this, of course. But if they have already developed the basis for virus testing, adaptation to corona is feasible with manageable effort,” said Dr. Ralf Dostatni, Managing Director of Milenia Biotec, in an interview with Germany’s Giessener Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. 

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