Nov 12, 2020: New method to treating life-threatening alcohol intoxication recognized as a game-changer

Thornhill Medical’s Dr. Joe Fisher and Dr. Olivia Sobczyk demonstrate the ClearMate™

A new study co-authored by University Health Network’s (UHN)’s and Thornhill Medical’s Dr. Joseph Fisher could be a game-changer in using controlled hyperventilation to accelerate alcohol elimination.

The paper, Accelerated Ethanol Elimination Via the Lungs, published in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research Journal, presents a proof of concept of a simple method that uses Thornhill Medical’s ClearMateTM, device that allows the patient to hyperventilate off the alcohol while returning precisely the amount of carbon dioxide to the body to keep it at normal levels in the blood.

UHN’s announcement explained that normally, 90% of the alcohol in the human body is cleared exclusively by the liver at a constant rate that can’t be increased.  Currently there is no other method, short of dialysis, whereby alcohol can be removed from the blood.  The only other ways to treat life-threatening alcohol levels include giving oxygen, intravenous fluids, breathing assistance, and treating any heart issues with drugs.

Three other Thornhill Medical team members and UHN colleagues co-authored the paper, Dr. James Duffin, Dr. Ludwick Fedorko and Dr. Olivia Sobczyk. “This is another step in our journey to advance innovative medical technologies, make the impossible possible, and improve patient care,” said Lesley Gouldie, CEO of Thornhill Medical.  

This study is the first scientific demonstration that the basic rate of alcohol elimination could be substantially exceeded by using hyperventilation. The approach is simply to recruit the lungs to breathe out the alcohol.  The harder the breathing, it was reasoned, the more alcohol is eliminated.  The team found that hyperventilation eliminated the alcohol at least three times faster than through the liver alone.

“We used a generic method that can potentially clear many volatile hydrocarbons via the lungs,” explained Dr. Joe Fisher. “I am hopeful that with further validation studies, our method can easily become a standard approach to treat many types of poisonings around the world, saving many with carbon monoxide, ethanol, methanol and solvent poisoning.”  

Thornhill Medical’s ClearMate™ is also the world’s only immediate and effective treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning.

The authors recommend following up with other validation studies to understand how this technology could be applied in clinical settings.

Founded in 2004 as a spin-off of Toronto’s University Health Network, Toronto-based Thornhill Medical is a leading developer of innovative medical technologies, including ClearMateTM, and its proprietary MOVES® SLC™ integrated life-support technology.