Shandong University team creates new ECMO machine

Published on 03/18 2020  Source: China Daily


A team in Shandong University has recently developed an Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation machine at a lower cost than foreign brands that is expected to move into mass production amid the country's efforts in fighting novel coronavirus pneumonia, according to the university.

The new ECMO machine is small and boasts an efficient pump system. Its design lowers the risk of hemolysis-the destruction of red blood cells-and promotes easy blood flow, said Liu Shuqin, a member of the research team.

Performance data show it meets global standards, she said.

An ECMO machine, a kind of life support device, may be used during life-threatening conditions such as severe lung damage from an infection or to treat shock after a massive heart attack. It has played a crucial role in treating novel coronavirus pneumonia patients who are in critical condition.

A 16-member team consisting of researchers from fields including fluid engineering, emergency medicine, cardiac surgery, critical care, electrical engineering and systems and control engineering spent more than 10 years developing the new machine.

They successfully developed the ECMO pump with full magnetic levitation technology.

Working as an artificial heart, the pump is one of two crucial parts. The other is the artificial lung that has already been produced in China.

The team has applied for three patents for their invention, two of which have been approved, Liu said.

Currently, the ECMO market in China is dominated by one US brand and two German brands, said Liu, adding there are around 400 ECMO machines in use in China.

"If the ECMO equipment we developed could be produced in batches, the price would be around 1 million yuan ($142,000) for each machine… lower than that of imported ECMO machines that usually cost 1.5 million yuan to 2 million yuan," Liu said.

"We hope producers of medical machines could join hands with us to put our invention into production as soon as possible," she said.

"It's progress to develop the pump. It's not easy," said Gan Yiwu, chairman of Biobase Group, a manufacturer of laboratory equipment and medical equipment based in Shandong province.

"There is still a long way to go before putting it into clinical use."

The number of patients who need to use ECMO in China is increasing, and the epidemic will create higher demands for it, Gan said.

The Guangdong Medical Devices Quality Surveillance and Test Institute will organize experts to conduct research on the ECMO sector to make plans on how to integrate domestic resources for production, according to a meeting held by the institute.(Source: China Daily)