Third Pole’s Lighter Nitric Oxide System Wins Johnson & Johnson Innovation Award

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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Third Pole has won a Johnson & Johnson Innovation award for a lighter device that provides an unlimited supply of nitric oxide (NO) to patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) and other respiratory conditions.

The beauty of Third Pole’s Electric NO device, which won Johnson Innovation’s JLABS @ M2D2 QuickFire Challenge, is that it could eliminate the need for gas cylinders.

Representatives of challenge-winning companies receive a year’s residence at the University of Massachusetts Medical Device Development (M2D2) Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. The program also provides them with mentors and coaching from Johnson & Johnson Innovation specialists. The aim is to help companies develop the best medical device idea, technology or solution to address a critical health need.

Our bodies use nitric oxide to relax and smooth muscle cells around blood vessels. Low doses of inhaled NO can decrease lung blood vessels’ resistance without dramatically dropping blood pressure.

Inhaled NO has been a standard of care for 20 years. It has been used by nearly a million patients worldwide, including before and after cardiac surgery.

NO is also used to treat children born with hypoxic respiratory failure, colloquially called blue babies. Third Pole said about 10,000 blue babies breathe NO to treat their hypoxic respiratory failure annually. The average cost is $14,000 per newborn.

In addition to the treatment being expensive, the cylinders used to deliver NO are heavy and difficult to transport, maintain, return and refill. This makes the therapy virtually inaccessible outside hospitals.

Third Pole’s device generates NO on site. A key implication is that it can be used worldwide for PH and other respiratory conditions.

Electric NO addresses current concerns about delivery systems by offering a lightweight alternative that is chemically equivalent to what is in cylinders and that generates an unlimited supply of gas.

“We are very excited to have won Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s JLABS @ M2D2 QuickFire Challenge,” David Zapol, Third Pole’s chief executive officer, said in a press release.

“Third Pole’s team has an ambitious vision to transform cardiopulmonary therapy. We are building on the discoveries that made tank-based inhaled NO the standard of care for pulmonary hypertension 20 years ago, and are developing next generation life-saving cardiopulmonary therapies capable of creating new markets and expanding access worldwide.

“With Professor Warren Zapol of Massachusetts General Hospital, a co-inventor of inhaled NO, as the head of our Scientific Advisory Board, our outstanding team, and now with the unparalleled access to resources at JLABS @ M2D2, we feel that the wind is at our backs as we work to launch our disruptive NO delivery systems over the next two years,” Zapol added.