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Leuven-based designers help invent a human (corona?) incubator

26 March 2020

Fighting the corona-virus by putting people into an incubator at 41.5 degrees to warm the body. This is a remarkable track that a professor from Elmedix wants to take, backed by Leuven MindGate member RAAK.


The company Elmedix developed a technology platform to warm up bodies very precisely and in a controlled way. Initially for pancreas cancer treatment, but this technology could possibly be used to help patients with the corona-virus, according to Elmedix. They received the support of RAAK, which provided the industrial design of the incubator. The creative people of Leuven also took care of various hardware components.

Kasper De Backer of RAAK explains: "Two years ago, Elmedix came to us with an idea to develop a technology platform that would enable us to heat patients very precisely and precisely. Hyperthermia (warming up bodies) would have a positive effect on cancer patients. This is and was also the main intention in the development of this project. Now it appears that with this way of treatment we can also fight viruses such as COVID-19. However, a lot of research still needs to be done before we can make any formal statement on that".

After all, the virus particles can't withstand heat very well. The body destroys some of the viruses by fever. By warming people up to 41.5 degrees for two to three hours in a controlled way, virus particles can possibly be eliminated faster, according to Elmedix.

De Backer continues: "Together with various partners, we built various prototypes in order to gradually arrive at an end product that can heat up the patient with special accuracy. From animal testing to building the final incubator on a human scale, it is an ongoing project with many challenges for our design studio as well as all our partners. Above all, we try to put our basic values into this project, designing a logical and simple product in which the functionality and use by the patient and his caregivers (users) is central."

Elmedix requested European support to test the technology on patients with COVID-19 as soon as possible. The method would not be applicable to severely ill corona patients, but could avoid that less ill patients have to go to intensive care.

Source: De Tijd / Leuven MindGate

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