Awair: Breathe Better Technology

Stage 2 E-Team Grantees

Recipient Institution: 
Stanford University
Principal Investigator: 
Paul Yock
Grant Amount: 

A device that reduces the pain and discomfort of an endotracheal tube by applying local anesthetic (lidocaine) directly to the airway.

See the video here:

The team:
 AWAIR: Breathe Better Technology – Awarded $20,000

The team members:

  • Rush Bartlett II, Ph.D., MBA, 2012-13 Cottrell Specialty fellow in Stanford Biodesign; co-founder of LyoGo and LEMM Technologies
  • Ryan Van Wert, M.D., 2012-13 Cottrell Specialty fellow in Stanford Biodesign; post-doctoral fellow in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Principal Investigator:
Paul Yock, MD, Martha Meier Weiland Professor of Medicine
Director, Biodesign

Stanford University

The innovation: 

The Wyshbone drug delivery catheter, which continuously applies topical anesthetic to the throat to reduce endotracheal (breathing) tube insertion discomfort.

The problem: 
Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients on a ventilator require a painful endotracheal breathing tube to be placed in the throat, necessitating powerful intravenous sedatives (IVS) to mask the pain, which can lead to a number of negative side effects. When compared with ICU patients who do not have breathing tubes and are not heavily sedated, the breathing tube patients often have longer hospital stays and are more likely to develop ventilator-associated pneumonia, deep vein thrombosis, pressure ulcers and delirium. This demonstrates a need to eliminate or reduce sedation for people with breathing tubes.

The solution: 

Rush and Ryan created the Wyshbone drug delivery catheter, a device that continuously applies lidocaine, a topical painkiller, to the throat in order to reduce the discomfort of having a breathing tube inserted. AWAIR’s targeted approach helps clinicians to minimize the use of IVS and allows the patient to be awake and comfortable during the process. In pilot studies, the Wyshbone catheter reduces the use of IVS by half. Wyshbone is the first device to deliver continuous lidocaine to the airway.

The future:
AWAIR is currently working to perfect the Wyshbone prototypes. The team plans to garner user feedback on the prototypes by piloting the technology in multiple academic centers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Wyshbone has a strong intellectual property position and requires low-risk trials such as these to receive regulatory approval. If the user feedback and testing results are positive, AWAIR will continue to raise funding for regulatory approval and eventually production.

Tip for student innovators:

Ryan advises collegiate innovators to “listen, be intellectually honest and persevere.”