Around the dinner table one evening, Christopher Onesti’s father, doctor, told the story of an emergency patient who died from a preventable mistake – improper intubation. During a frantic ambulance race, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) inadvertently placed the airway tube into the patient’s esophagus instead of the trachea, pouring oxygen into the stomach instead than in the lungs.
Onesti contacted paramedics near his home in Westchester County, NY, and learned that most intubation check sensors are disposable and cost at least $ 12 each, which can stretch the Very slim budgets of small privately funded EMT units that perform hundreds of intubations each. year.
“Because many EMT companies have limited funding and cannot afford these disposable sensors, the technician often resorts to assessing a patient’s physical signs to see if he is breathing properly,” a- he declared. “Many of the EMT staff who perform intubations are new to the experience, so using a sensor would definitely benefit them. “
So, from the day he entered Harvard campus in September 2016, Onesti decided to launch a startup. He met like-minded freshman Nicolas Weninger, an electrical engineering hub, and the two began to brainstorm viable startup ideas. They were inspired by their collaborative project by Introduction to computer science (CS 50), which ultimately led to the launch of Entyde, in which they participated in the 10th annual i3 innovation challenge. The student startup competition is organized by the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Entyde is looking to develop an easy-to-use, reliable and reusable intubation verification sensor that provides a more affordable option for small, underfunded EMT teams, Weninger said. The startup won the McKinley Commercial Grant Gold Medal in the i3 Innovation Challenge, which includes a prize of $ 10,000.
Their award-winning idea is a sterilizable CO2 sensor device that connects to an airway tube. The sensor, which detects the rate of change in the CO2 exhaled by the patient, triggers a binary indicator light that glows green or red to indicate whether a patient is breathing properly, Weninger explained.
“In an emergency situation everything happens so fast and there is a lot of confusion, so we don’t want our device to add a burden to EMS teams,” he said. “We want our sensor to be easy to integrate into their current workflow, so they can just swap our sensor and it works right away.”
Making sure the device is sterilizable is one of the biggest challenges the start-up team faces. Their prototype is made of materials that will not be damaged by repeated cleanings with alcohol wipes, and they are developing a pressure valve that will only open when oxygen is pushed into the patient’s trachea. To ensure proper sterilization, exhaled air must be prevented from returning through the valve.
The co-founders will spend the summer fine-tuning the prototype to make the device as easy to use as possible and to meet FDA approval specifications. They will reach out to West Coast business contacts for advice on medical device startups as they consolidate their business model. They also plan to work closely with Cambridge’s EMT units to develop a better understanding of intubation processes.
“We don’t know what the future holds for Entyde, in terms of what the business will look like, but what has driven us from the start has been the desire to help people and create a positive impact.” , said Onesti. “This vision will continue to be a driving force for us on the road.”
The vote of confidence from the i3 Innovation Challenge judges was a huge boost for the company, Weninger added. For him, it is especially gratifying that two freshmen can break into the medical device industry and develop a system that could save lives.
“Engineering in all its forms can be a really powerful force for good in the world, and I think our startup and the work we have done is a very good indication of that,” he said.