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New device helps treat pulmonary hypertension

As it is now, newborns with pulmonary hypertension have their oxygenation improved using bulky tanks or regulators that are quite expensive. Pulmonary hypertension (PH or PHTN) is an increase in blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. Symptoms include, shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain, swelling of the legs and a faint heartbeat There are many forms of PH. Some newborn babies have PH: Neonatal respiratory failure affects 2% of all live births, and is responsible for over one third of all neonatal mortality. Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) complicates the course of approximately 10% of infants with respiratory failure, and is a source of considerable mortality and morbidity in this population.

The Third Pole is a device about the size of a milk jug. It is able to generate nitric oxide from the air without the use of bulky tanks or regulators as is the norm now. Warren Zapol who is an anesthesiologist and Harvard professor was among the first to use NO in the early 1990’s to treat babies suffering pulmonary hypertension using tanks and regulators. Warren together with his son David, who has advanced degrees in public health, biology and immuneology from MIT, Columbia and Stanford, founded Third Pole in 2014 after spending several years trying to find an easier and cheaper way of delivering nitric oxide.

The startup has managed to raise about $9.5 million in venture funding. It has received grants of $3.5 million from the National Institutes of Health. Although for now, Third Pole is concentrating on its jug-sized unit to be used in hospitals. the company hopes that it can develop a smaller unit about the size of a paper-back that can be clipped on a belt and used at home.

The company hopes that it will be shipping the jug-sized device by by 2019. Louis Ignarro, the Nobel Prize-winning pharmacologist said that the new device was a very big deal for patient care as it made NO treatment much more affordable compared to the cost of the present treatment. There would be much less drain on scarce health care funds. Bloomberg provides the following information on Third Pole: “Third Pole, Inc. develops products that generate and deliver electric nitric oxide for hospital, ambulatory, and home use, as well as for use in malaria, heart attacks, and strokes. The company was incorporated in 2014 and is based in San Francisco, California.” The appended video shows the father and son developers of the Third Pole discussing the background and creation of the Third Pole.

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