The Johns Hopkins University and DuPont have signed license and collaboration agreements allowing DuPont to commercialize a garment with innovative features from Johns Hopkins to help protect people on the front lines of the Ebola crisis and future deadly infectious disease outbreaks. DuPont intends to have the first of these garments available in the marketplace during the first half of 2016.
The collaboration between the major research university and the international science and engineering company began in response to the humanitarian need identified by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) during the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In this region, the Ebola virus has infected more than 28,000 patients and resulted in more than 11,000 deaths. Harsh climates and ill-equipped health systems have led to tough working conditions that made it particularly difficult to keep the infections at bay. As the disease spread, many nurses, doctors, and others were fatally infected by the patients they were treating. The World Health Organization has confirmed more than 800 Ebola cases among health workers in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, leading to more than 500 related deaths….
"This unique collaboration," said Youseph Yazdi, executive director of CBID, "brings together the biomedical ingenuity of Johns Hopkins, the global healthcare experience of Jhpiego, and the strategic industrial innovations of DuPont to help save lives worldwide. Although this project was triggered by the recent Ebola outbreak, we believe the improved protective suit’s design will be impactful in future infectious disease outbreaks as well."
A team representing Johns Hopkins and Jhpiego is among the finalists for an international award that recognizes innovative designs that improve lives for its improved protective suit for health workers treating patients with Ebola and other infectious diseases. Winners of the INDEX: Awards were announced Thursday night at a ceremony in Denmark.
The protective suit was initially designed by a team of global health experts, engineers, scientists, and students at a weekend-long hackathon in October 2014. The event—co-hosted by Jhpiego, a nonprofit global health affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design—came in response to a call to action from the White House and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for improved personal protective equipment during the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which killed nearly 6,500 people, including more than 500 health workers. Clinvue, a Baltimore-based innovation consultancy, also contributed to the design.
The suit design has elements to keep the wearer more comfortable than in existing suits and reduce the risk of coming in contact with infectious fluids during treatment and while removing the suit. Enhancements include a large, clear visor in the hood, which is integrated into the suit; air vents in the hood; a rear zipper to reduce infection risks while removing the garment; and a cocoon-style doffing (removal) process that requires far fewer steps than existing garments. A more advanced version includes a small, battery-powered, dry air source to cool the user by blowing air into the hood.
Added Youseph Yazdi, executive director of CBID and a professor in the Johns Hopkins University Department of Biomedical Engineering: “It has truly been a privilege and labor of love for CBID’s students, faculty, and staff to work with great partners like Jhpiego and Clinvue to design something that addresses such a great need. We are just eager to see this in the field helping the front-line heroes providing care.”