The fight against corona

Published On: March 27th, 2020

Strong demand for products from the former portfolio company Xenios AG

In 2008, the Zukunftsfonds Heilbronn invested in Novalung, a manufacturer of artificial lungs, and in 2011 it also invested in Medos Medizintechnik AG, a manufacturer of blood circulation systems. Both companies later merged at the Heilbronn-Wohlgelegen site to form Xenios AG, and in 2016 the ZFHN sold its shares to Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA. The company is currently a key player in the fight against corona, as reported in the Heilbronner Stimme regional newspaper at the beginning of this week.

There is consequently more demand than ever for the Novalung external ventilator. After the first machines were already used in the Chinese province of Hubei, the company has been working at full capacity since the eruption of the global pandemic, as Fresenius spokesperson Matthias Link told the Heilbronner Stimme: “Over the course of the spread of coronavirus, we have seen a significant increase in demand for Novalung devices and the medical products required for the individual treatments.” Production was therefore significantly increased. But that’s not enough to cover the significantly increased demand,” Link continues.

As he says, the machine can only be considered to be a supplement to conventional ventilators anyway. He points out that the use of Novalung requires a detailed introduction and training of doctors and nursing staff, which there is currently little space for in light of the ongoing strain on hospital staff. “We will nevertheless endeavour to fulfil as many requests as possible so that this life-sustaining therapy is received by as many seriously ill patients as possible. And we are working on making this therapy more widely available in the medium term,” the spokesperson says in the Heilbronner Stimme. Because in addition to patients with acute respiratory failure, the Novalung therapy can also be used for chronic respiratory illnesses.

In Novalung, Xenios offers a procedure which can be used to treat patients with respiratory failure. This therefore also applies for patients who have a correspondingly severe disease progression as a result of a coronavirus infection. The other particular development at the Heilbronn-based company is that the function of the lungs is bypassed, and the waste products are removed from the patient’s blood and it is enriched with oxygen outside the body with its device – as in an artificial lung, just in the form of a smaller system. In general, the machine is only used if traditional ventilation therapy is no longer working sufficiently well. Today, Novalung is available in more than 50 countries and was also approved by the US health authority, the FDA, for the first time a few weeks ago. Despite being part of the Fresenius Group, the administration and production departments of what was Xenios are still housed at the Heilbronn Wohlgelegen innovation park and are a major employer there.”

Source: Heilbronner Stimme GmbH & Co. KG