Collaboration across the Department of Defense (DoD), including an innovative five-way Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) involving four DoD labs and a commercial licensee, led to the rapid deployment of a low-cost isolation chamber to protect health care workers from COVID-19 exposure.
By summer 2020, the COVID-19 Airway Management Isolation Chamber (CAMIC) had been used in more than 100 surgical procedures in the military health system. Within seven months of initial conceptualization, 150 CAMIC devices had been commercially manufactured and were awaiting final approval for distribution.
CAMIC is a clear isolation chamber that drapes around the head, neck and shoulders of a patient, creating a portable negative pressure environment that captures and removes viral particles using vacuum lines.
CAMIC was conceived in the spring of 2020 by physicians at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) and refined in just three weeks with the support of three Army labs: the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA) and the Clinical and Translational Research Program Office (CTRPO). CAMIC’s simple construction from readily available materials allowed rapid fabrication of the chambers by military treatment facilities after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an emergency use authorization in June.
Technology transfer efforts reflected the same sense of urgency and collaboration, with T2 staff across multiple chains of command working nights and weekends to accelerate processes and forestall intellectual property (IP) issues that could have slowed — or outright halted — commercialization.
The combination of a portable isolation chamber with an Atrix cordless vacuum offers a mobile solution for the DoD as well as civilian medical transport applications.
“In 25 years of technology transfer, I have never seen more moving parts,” one member of the T2 team said.
An emergency use license was granted to Prep Tech Healthcare Technologies, a Louisiana health care technology developer. Prep Tech, which had also begun rapidly prototyping its own self-contained isolation chambers for use against COVID-19, worked with technology transfer officials at the U.S. Army Medical Research & Development Command (USAMRDC) and TechLink to secure an emergency use license in June, followed by a CRADA several months later, to further the testing, development and commercial manufacture of the CAMIC device.
A second emergency use license was granted in October to Atrix International, a manufacturer of ultrafine filtration vacuums for the health care industry. The combination of a portable isolation chamber with an Atrix cordless vacuum offers a mobile solution for the DoD as well as civilian medical transport applications.
While other isolation chambers are now commercially available, the CAMIC satisfied an urgent, high-priority need for the DoD’s military facilities, including those overseas in remote locations, and opens the door for further collaboration with industry partners in this important and rapidly developing technology area.
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