Synapse Biomedical develops solution for lengthy life support

By Laurie Hamame -

A surgically-implanted diaphragm simulator manufactured by Synapse Biomedical Inc. in Oberlin could save nearly $84 billion spent each year by hospitals on mechanical ventilation.

Most surgical post-operative care is spent in the intensive care unit where about 50 percent of patients are on mechanical ventilation, a machine that helps people breathe when they are not able to on their own, said Anthony Ignagni, president and CEO of Synapse.

While some patients get off machines quickly, many require prolonged assisted respiration, which could lead to atrophy.

Diaphragm weakness increases health care costs, patient morbidity, and mortality, Ignagni said. It’s a primary contributor to extending ICU stays and ventilator weaning times up to 90 days.

That’s where TransAeris comes in — the first medical device approved for the treatment of ventilator-induced diaphragm dysfunction.

Electrodes are implanted into the diaphragm to provide neuromuscular stimulation to the muscle while the patient is intubated.

“The diaphragm is the primary muscle of breathing and it’s meant to be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Ignagni said.

If a machine is doing all of the breathing for a patient, the diaphragm needs to be retrained to breathe on its own again, he said.

TransAeris received approval for marketing in Europe and is now available in 27 countries.

It was based on a device developed by the Oberlin company in 2015 to slow respiratory decline in patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease and spinal cord injuries.

Pioneered by surgeon and Case Western Reserve University professor Ray Onders, the NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System enables patients with respiratory distress to breathe in a more normalized manner through a surgical implantation.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

By Laurie Hamame