Three Lakes Partners Announces Winners of IPF Catalyst Challenge

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by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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IPF Catalyst Challenge

Photo credit: Sean Su, CloudSpotter

Advanced Interactive Response Systems (AIRS), Owlstone Medical and patientMpower are the three winners of the $1 million IPF Catalyst Challenge presented by Three Lakes Partners, a philanthropy organization financing research of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

The three winners will receive $333,333 each to develop their projects.

Level Ex received the competition’s Audience Choice Award of $50,000.

Winners and judges holding the oversized IPF Catalyst Challenge check. Photo credit: Sean Su, CloudSpotter

AIRS will develop a high-quality portable oxygen device that includes a monitoring system to improve IPF patient health and caregiver performance.

“AIRS is honored to be a winner of the IPF Catalyst Challenge. We saw an unmet need in oxygen therapy for IPF patients and knew we could make a big difference in their quality of life, and even save lives with our solution. AIRS products ensure the proper amount of oxygen is being delivered by monitoring the oxygen supply and the oxygen user in real time. We’re excited to partner with others who share the same goal of improving the quality of life for IPF patients,” Valerie Obenchain, AIRS founder and CEO, said in a press release.

Owlstone Medical’s winning proposal aims to develop simple tests for early detection of IPF. The test will identify IPF-associated biomarkers in patients’ breath using the company’s proprietary Breath Biopsy platform and will allow for real-time monitoring of disease activity.

“We are thrilled to win this award which recognizes the potential of our Breath Biopsy platform for the early detection of IPF. Breath Biopsy is already being used in clinical trials for a wide range of cancers, including lung and colorectal cancer, and has recently been integrated into a major clinical development program for a novel drug candidate for respiratory disease. In taking this step towards a Breathalyzer for IPF, we look forward to making a similar contribution to finding quality-of-life solutions for this devastating disease, and continue to work towards our vision of saving 100,000 lives and $1.5 [billion] in healthcare costs,” said Billy Boyle, Owlstone Medical co-founder and CEO.

The third winner, patientMpower, will develop a mobile platform to allow IPF patients to track their disease using integrated monitors. These include, among other features, spirometry – a pulmonary function test that measures the rate of air flow and estimates a person’s lung size – and pulse oximetry, a noninvasive method for monitoring the levels of oxygen in the blood. The platform also may eventually improve treatment management and communication between patients and caregivers.

“Winning the IPF Catalyst Challenge is a pivotal moment for patientMpower and our mission to empower patients, those PF warriors, to live better with IPF. This funding will also be the catalyst for us to fully realize the potential of our digital biobank — data donated by all the PF warriors which is an amazing resource for IPF research. Through collaborations, we will continue to uncover new insights to map IPF human health. We would like to thank all those behind the IPF Catalyst Challenge for giving us this amazing opportunity to empower patients, to improve outcomes, and to accelerate research,” said Eamonn Costello, patientMpower CEO.

Level Ex won the Audience Choice Award with a project to enhance the knowledge about IPF by clinicians. They will use a mobile video game with lifelike, virtual patients to improve clinical decisions related to IPF.

“We are honored to be selected as the Audience Choice Award Winner. Knowing that the IPF community sees the tremendous potential that our professional video games have to revolutionize medical training truly energizes our team. We are excited to move ahead and develop virtual patient cases that teach physicians how to successfully detect and treat IPF,” said Sam Glassenberg, Level Ex founder and CEO.

The challenge invited proposals from around the world to present innovative but applicable solutions to tackle one of the competition’s four categories: early diagnosis and detection; patient education and engagement; oxygen improvement; and improving the care continuum. Ideas for improving patients’ quality of life also were welcomed even if they didn’t fall into any of those categories.

Three Lakes Partners launched the $1 Million ‘IPF Catalyst Challenge’ competition last year.

“We created the IPF Catalyst Challenge on behalf of the countless patients around the world living with this largely ignored, heartbreaking disease. By collaborating with brilliant minds and innovative thinkers across the globe, we knew we could attack IPF from all sides and truly make progress,” said Ken Bahk, PhD, managing director of Three Lakes Partners.

“We couldn’t be more thankful for the inspiring ideas we saw over the course of this competition, and are honored to help bring our winners’ solutions to life. We’re excited for the promise that lies ahead.” Bahk added.

The other finalists of the challenge include the American Thoracic SocietyCambridge Respiratory Innovations LimitedDolby VivisolMayo Clinic Rochester, and the University of Chicago Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) Team.

The winners were announced Jan. 24 during a live finalist presentation event at MATTER‘s Chicago headquarters. MATTER, together with Three Lakes Partners, IDEO and Common Pool, organized the event.

“This challenge brought some of the world’s best innovators to Chicago to make a difference for those suffering from IPF,” said Rahm Emanuel, Chicago mayor. “Congratulations to the winners and we look forward to seeing the difference you can collectively make in tackling this disease; and a special thanks to Three Lakes Partners and MATTER for your dedication to improving the lives of so many individuals and families across the world,” he said.