Masks, soap, little bottles of Purell — and, of course, our state of quarantine. These tolls have helped us flatten the curve, but they are a far cry from the vaccine or cure that we so desperately crave. Still, that does not mean we don’t have any advanced medical equipment to limit the number of fatalities, with one Israeli company looking into how its technology could help COVID-19 patients.
Avner Spector, an Israeli mechanical engineer, is the CEO of Medispec, an Israeli medical technology company. Spector co-founded Medispec in 1992, along with its American branch, the Gaithersburg-situated Medispec USA, in 1994. Since 2005, the company
has been looking into the ways low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy, or Li-ESWT, can be used to improve patient health.
However, Li-ESWT’s original intent never had anything to do with the coronavirus.
This year, Medispec’s Ominspec, a tool that delivers Li-ESWT to patients, received FDA approval to be sold in the U.S. as a therapeutic massager and as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Medispec had planned to market the device early this year.
“Unfortunately, the corona stop everything,” Spector said.
While deploying the Omnispec for its initial purpose may be on indefinite hold, Spector said that, according to preliminary yet promising evidence, the Li-ESWT used by the device can also be used in combination with prescription drugs as a supplement to treat patients for high blood pressure and kidney failure. Meanwhile, the Cardiospec, another Medispec device, could potentially use Li-ESWT to treat patients for heart disease, though it has not yet to be approved by the FDA for medical use.
According to Spector, treating COVID-19 patients for high blood pressure and heart disease is important, as these conditions increase the likelihood that a patient will experience more severe complications due to the coronavirus.
“If you don’t have enough blood flow to the apex of the heart … when you are in stress, you don’t, you can’t produce enough blood pressure to the body,” Spector said.
Spector explained that, when patients are sick, they need their blood to flow freely to supply oxygen to needed areas of the body.
“Our goal is to reduce the risk factor by improving the heart condition and reduce blood pressure,” Spector said. “This will give them better chance.”
According to Spector, Li-ESWT is a safe and simple-to-use outpatient procedure that involves exerting a series of painless pressure pulses on the body to create small blood vessels, increase blood flow through the body, increase nerve activity, and generally improve vitality.
According to Julia Divon, Medispec’s HR and special projects director, Li-ESWT therapy would normally be administered by an ultrasound technician, as it is similar to receiving an ultrasound. The treatment would be for a maximum of four hours, divided into six 30 – 40 minute sessions.
There certainly is a great need for effective tools to fight COVID-19, as Dr. Dov Frankel, an emergency physician at GBMC HealthCare – Greater Baltimore Medical Center, can attest to. Frankel said that it could potentially work to treat COVID-19 patients.
“We have to have a risk-benefit analysis,” Frankel said. “If we can do this safely, minimizing the amount of time the operator is exposed to the patient, I think it could work.”
Medispec is currently trying to apply for a grant and needs a U.S. partner to introduce the treatment to clinical partners.
“It’s good to use this technology to increase the probability of people with corona disease not to [deteriorate] their condition,” Spector said. “This treatment, in principal, has a lot of potential.”