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OxyGEN ‘super powers’ POCs

OxyGEN ‘super powers’ POCs

BALTIMORE – The founders of OxyGEN will use their recent prize money to turn their prototype portable oxygen concentrator into an actual product. 

Jessica Dakkak, Jonathan Smith and Wilson Tang were recently named the winners of an Innovation Challenge hosted by Three Lakes Foundation and MATTER for their POC combining high-flow ambient air with pulses of concentrated oxygen to provide more efficient therapy.   

“We’re not trying to produce more oxygen,” said Smith, “we’re trying to make the oxygen (that the POC) produces go further. We’re blasting it with additional air, instead of oxygen, super powering the oxygen that’s already being produced.” 

Three Lakes Foundation, a nonprofit that works to unite researchers, industries and philanthropy to advance the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis, and MATTER, an incubator hub of more than 200 startups around the world, selected OxyGEN and two other winners following a “Shark Tank” style pitch presentation via Zoom.  

Dakkak, Smith and Tang first began their work on the POC while master’s students in bioengineering at Johns Hopkins University, where part of their program was finding an “unmet” need and meeting it. They were given pulmonary therapy as a topic to explore. 

“Out of everything (we looked at), we found that oxygen therapy was a huge unmet need, specifically portable oxygen equipment,” Dakkak said. “We were quick to find how limited the equipment can be in terms of mobility and quality of life.” 

Through their affiliation with Johns Hopkins, the team surveyed more than 900 patients on oxygen and let that feedback drive the development of their POC. They also attended Medtrade in-person last year and virtually this year. 

“We’ve also taken (POCs) apart to see how they work and how we could potentially improve the components,” Dakkak said.  

The POC the team came up with also tracks, monitors and automatically adjusts the oxygen level for each patient in real-time. 

“We’re bringing in a more personalized treatment component,” Dakkak said. 

With their POC still a prototype, the team still has a long road ahead of it and, in addition to the prize money, will lean on Three Lakes and MATTER for mentorship and connections. 

“We’ll help them every step of the way to make sure they succeed as quickly as possible,” said Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER. “There’s an urgency around these solutions – people are depending on these advances to improve their lives.” 

For Three Lakes Foundation, the awareness that the Challenge and companies like OxyGEN help to raise about pulmonary fibrosis is also important work. 

“Especially with an unknown disease, the Challenge provides an opportunity to put a spotlight on the disease,” said Dana Ball, executive director. “It’s as much about awareness. We’re encouraging (people) to lean in, get involved and learn more.” 


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