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Case Study

Giving Asthmatics More Breathing Room

SAIT Polytechnic helps Alberta’s SolAeroMed find a compact delivery solution for its new asthma drug and save hundreds of millions in healthcare costs

Globally, 180,000 people still die of acute asthma attacks every year, many of them because the rescue medicine could not penetrate constricted airways.

SAIT Polytechnic is working with SolAeroMed to develop a new medical device to ensure medication can be properly inhaled. CO2, the key to success for SolAeroMed's patented drug S-1226, also creates the largest challenge in bringing it to market because CO2 canisters are large, heavy and take up too much space in an ambulance or emergency room.

With the support of an Applied Research and Development grant from NSERC, SAIT is building a working prototype of a drug delivery system to safely administer S-1226 and provide an alternative to bulky CO2 canisters. The delivery system can be larger than a Rubik's Cube, but needs to be smaller than a bread box to be easily transportable from the ambulance to the emergency room. The college is using cutting-edge tools, including a 3D printer for rapid prototyping and a numerical controlled routing machine to build usable parts out of any material.

"I made a very conscious decision to come to SAIT with this," says Dr. John Dennis, SolAeroMed CEO. "There's a very can-do attitude here, and I know we'll get great results.” The company also said another reason for partnering with SAIT is their design engineers “who have access to world-class design and rapid prototype fabrication equipment and techniques.” Once the device is ready for use, it is projected to save Canada nearly $500 million per year in health care costs by shortening and eliminating visits to intensive care units.

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