University of Limerick (UL) inventors recently secured funding for the new percussion device that helps remove mucus from the airways and will, they hope, greatly improve the quality of life for cystic fibrosis patients.
Ireland has the highest incidence of CF in the world and CF is the most common, fatal hereditary disease in the United States.
Professor Colum Dunne, who is Foundation Chair and Director of Research at ULs Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS), explained the background to the development of the product.
Patients with respiratory diseases use various devices, which help the removal of mucus from the airways and the improvement of pulmonary or lung function. One example that we have focused on here is the CF patient airway, which is defective in ciliary function; resulting, due to ineffective removal, in a mucus-rich environment favouring growth of bacteria. These bacteria include potential pathogens, associated with chronic infection, decreased lung function and accelerated respiratory disease.
Currently, there are percussion-based chest physiotherapy devices on the market, but according to Professor Dunne, these can sometimes become reservoirs for the bacteria that cause infections in Cystic Fibrosis patients. Because the new device, SoloPep, is disposable, it poses no threat of reinfection.