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The 2020 PF Innovation Challenge


The best way to advance innovation in the pulmonary fibrosis (PF) community is to bring together various groups to share their knowledge and experience. Three Lakes Foundation and incubator hub MATTER invited patients, physicians, and caregivers to meet with innovators, entrepreneurs, and inventors, inspiring them to develop new solutions in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of PF.

About the 2020 PF Innovation Challenge

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, more than 50 entrepreneurs and innovators across 36 cities and 10 countries answered the challenge to find new solutions for PF. Groundbreaking ideas came from countries as far as Australia, India, Turkey, Germany, and many parts of the U.S. Twelve finalists selected to participate in the “Shark Tank” style event. Global pharmaceutical executives, investors, payers, and physician groups participated as mentors, judges, and advisors. After careful deliberation and many hours of discussion, the judges selected the winning solutions. View the press release here.

THE 2020 Winners

First Place

OxyGEN, MedTech venture out of The Johns Hopkins University

The problem they wish to solve: More than 1.5 million Americans need oxygen therapy for daily living. Innovation has been stagnant in this industry. Oxygen tanks are heavy, bulky, and difficult for patients to carry and maneuver. Home oxygen concentrator machines are large and restrict people’s ability to move, leading to social isolation and depression. Portable oxygen concentrators are favored for their flexibility but they have an average, four-hour battery life and produce limited oxygen flow. 

The winning solution: An innovative portable oxygen concentrator that is more user friendly, automatically adjusts to patient needs and delivers a unique flow modality that could extend patients’ time outside of the home. The solution will significantly disrupt the industry, improve patient mobility, and enhance their quality of life. Next steps? OxyGEN will move forward to develop a prototype and test their solution in the field.

Second Place

Sydney Montesi is a physician-researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass.

The problem she wishes to solve: 

Current methods for diagnosing and monitoring disease progression (e.g., lung scarring) are limited. These limitations can delay diagnosis and ability to immediately start patients on needed treatments to slow how the disease progresses.  

The winning solution: Multiple studies have shown that the hallmark of lung fibrosis is the accumulation of type 1 collagen in the lung. A physician-scientist is applying an innovative way to detect type 1 collagen in the lungs, using positron emission tomography (PET). This imaging solution, which utilizes a PET probe that binds to type 1 collagen, could hasten PF diagnosis and lead to a more custom-tailored treatment plan per patient. Next steps are to validate the new solution in a single center study. 

Third Place

RecoverX is based in Menlo Park, Calif. 

The problem they wish to solve: It can take almost two years before patients with IPF receive an accurate diagnosis. The time lost can lead to disease progression and delays in treatment, impacting patient outcomes. The current treatment protocol for diagnosing PF can be challenging because of varied symptoms that could point to other conditions. This process is called differential diagnoses, creating  significant challenges for physicians.

The winning solution: RecoverX demonstrated that they could produce more accurate diagnosis far more quickly by utilizing evidence-based medicine combined with artificial intelligence and proprietary algorithms. This revolutionary platform delivers real-time diagnostic insights that will help clinicians improve time to diagnosis in PF. Their next step is to evolve their evidence-based data and accelerate deployment.

Peoples Choice

Aidar Health is located in Baltimore, M.D.

The problem they wish to solve: Misdiagnoses can lead to delays in treatment with patients. Additionally, many of the early symptoms – fever, cough, changes in blood pressure, respiratory pattern and rate  – can be attributed to other conditions.

The winning solution: Aidar is a digital medicine company that has developed a non-invasive, hand-held rapid health assessment device measuring more than 10 vital medical parameters in just 30 seconds. The vitals measured include body temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, respiratory flow cycle morphology, oxygen saturation, heart rate, heart rate variability, pulse rate, ECG, lung function, and cough. This “tricorder-style” hand-held device can play a significant role in not just screening individuals in healthcare settings, but also in managing chronic disease by interacting with the patients at home. Their next steps are to raise Series A funding and test their digital therapeutics platform in a larger patient trial.