The Prof. Dr. Werner Petersen-Stiftung Innovation Transfer Prize 2020 is awarded to the DZL

In the „Pursed Lip Breathing Ventilation“ study funded by the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), a novel respirator for COPD patients will be tested at a number of DZL sites. For this innovative therapy, the DZL scientists Dr. Stephan Rüller, Susanne Greve and PD Dr. Christian Herzmann, together with the FLO-Medizintechnik company were awarded the Prof. Dr. Werner Petersen-Stiftung Innovation Transfer Prize 2020, including prize money of 20,000 euros.

In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), breathing capacity is continuously impaired. The patients suffer from inflammation of the respiratory tract, caused mostly by smoking or poor air quality. Due to changes in the lung structure, air remains in the patient’s lung when exhaling (hyperdistension). This results in continuous inhalation resistance and gas exchange is thus only possible to a limited extent.

COPD patients with more severe courses of disease are therefore given oxygen-rich air overnight via breathing apparatus in order to relieve the respiratory muscles at least for a short time and improve the gas exchange. It is however known from patients undergoing long-term ventilation that in this way the hyperdistension can be increased. To avoid this, Dr. Stephan Rüller and Susanne Greve from the sleep laboratory at the Research Center Borstel, part of the North German site (Airway Research Center North – ARCN) of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), together with the respiratory equipment manufacturer FLO-Medizintechnik, have come up with an innovative strategy: they are using a tried and tested breathing technique, the „pursed lip breathing technique“. Here, the patient breathes out through slightly closed (pursed) lips. Since the air is released more slowly, constant pressure is maintained in the airways, which prevents the pulmonary alveoli from collapsing. Ultimately, in this way, more air can escape than during rapid exhalation and the gas exchange is improved.

The pursed lip breathing technique, that can only be used by patients when conscious, was presented by the scientists in a novel breathing concept that can be used with sleeping patients: they programmed the breathing apparatus with a pressure gradient similar to that of the pursed lip breathing technique. This creative transcription was recently rewarded by the Prof. Dr. Werner Petersen-Stiftung with one of two Innovation Transfer Prizes 2020. The prize of  20,000 euros will be shared by the DZL researchers and the FLO-Medizintechnik company in Melle.

Promising initial results indicate that the resilience and mobility of patients can increase already after short-term treatment. For example, the adjustment time required by patients until they have overcome the morning depression after the overnight ventilation can be reduced. The quantifiable effect is currently being studied by the DZL scientists in the DZL-supported study „Pursed Lip Breathing Ventilation“ (PLBV), in which the Hannover site BREATH is also involved.


Foto: Jan Steffen/GEOMAR Kiel

Award Ceremony in Kiel with Falko Menzel (FLO-Medizintechnik), PD Dr. Christian Herzmann (Forschungszentrum Borstel), Dr. Bernd Buchholz (economics minister Schleswig-Holstein), left to right