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HEALTHCARE | Medical Devices & Equipment / Device Design & Manufacturing
gambro.com

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Founded Year

1964

Stage

Acquired | Acquired

Revenue

$0000 

About Gambro

Gambro is a global medical technology company developing, manufacturing and supplying products and therapies for Kidney and Liver dialysis, Myeloma Kidney Therapy, and other extracorporeal therapies for Chronic and Acute patients.

Gambro Headquarter Location

Scheelevägen 34

SE-220,

Sweden

+46 46 16 90 00

Latest Gambro News

The Swede’s artificial kidney saves lives outside the body

Aug 29, 2021

He started with sausage skins and old jam jars, laid the foundation for the global business success Gambro, and saved countless lives along the way. Millions of patients have the Scanian doctor Nils Alwall to thank for the dialysis machine, also known as the artificial kidney. One autumn night in 1946, feverish activity prevailed in the basement under the hospital in Lund, where an unconscious 47-year-old man was rolled down from the Medical Clinic. The hope was that one could save the seriously ill man’s life with a strange new device. Five years earlier, Dr. Alwall, who was interested in technology, had received an associate professor scholarship, which enabled him to experiment with artificial kidneys full-time. His first model was made of wood, packing tape and bear wire, and he also built apparatus for animal experiments from old jam jars. Gramophone motors and valve rubbers were used to drive the blood through the prototypes. Now the technology was considered mature enough to be tested “sharply”, and the patient was really bad at it. His kidneys had completely stopped working and he was dying of urine poisoning. He also had a long-standing stone dust lung, which was complicated by pneumonia. An artery and a vein in the man’s forearm were fitted with glass needles, connected to a tube – in fact an ordinary sausage skin in cellophane, but eleven meters long. The sausage skin led into a large glass jar, filled with water, salt and bicarbonate, where the hose went around a cylinder of wire mesh. The arterial blood began to flow through the tube, around the cylinder. Along the way, the fluid in the can attracted slag products from the blood, so that it returned purified back into the patient through the venous cannula. Nils Alwall’s apparatus performed, outside the body, the work the sick man’s kidneys could no longer do. The process lasted for several hours, and eventually the patient woke up from unconsciousness. He could both open his eyes and talk to the medical staff. Unfortunately, the pneumonia took the man’s life a few days later. But everyone in the hospital’s basement realized that they had witnessed a medical breakthrough: the first successful dialysis treatment. But Nils Alwall was actually not really first. A similar dialysis system had been developed at about the same time by the Dutch researcher Willem Kolff, who managed to save the life of a patient already the year before the breakthrough in Lund. As long as World War II was going on and effectively hindering communication in the research world, however, Alwall and Kolff had not known each other’s work. Associate Professor Nils Alwall at the medical clinic teaches a group of medicine candidates at a patient bed in Lund, around the year 1950. Photo: ERIK LILJEROTH / NORDISKA MUSEET / SYDSVENSKA MEDICINHISTORISKA SÄLSKAPET Dialysis soon became an important method of keeping patients alive through temporary impairments of kidney function, such as after surgery or kidney damage. Among other things, Kolff’s system was used on wounded soldiers during the Korean War in the early 1950s, while Alwall’s method was mainly spread in civilian healthcare. Now Nils Alwall focused his energy on the chronic kidney disease. These patients could not be dialyzed, but were still in constant bed rest – they were not even allowed to get up to go to the toilet – and their diet was not allowed to contain salt or spices, as this could increase the body’s production of nitrogenous residues. The reason was that the dialysis treatments required intervention in the body, which could not be performed as many times as possible. Over time, you run out of blood vessels where the needles can be placed. That problem was solved in the early 60’s when they learned to surgically connect an artery with a vein, through a so-called arteriovenous fistula. This is created either by the patient’s own blood vessels, or by operating on an artificial vessel. Some of the arterial blood flows through the fistula over to the vein, which gradually increases in diameter and becomes coarser due to the increased flow and the increased pressure. After a few weeks of “maturation”, the vein can be used for needle placement and connection to the dialysis machine. Another problem was that the treatment required large spaces in rooms that were specially adapted for clinical dialysis, and great access to specially trained care staff. This made operating costs very high. Nils Alwall realized that much could be gained by simplifying and “compacting” the process, if one succeeded in developing an easy-to-use disposable filter for the dialysis process itself. And at a private dinner in Lund, Alwall accidentally collided with the company manager and patron Holger Crafoord, CEO of the packaging company Åkerlund & Rausing and co-founder of Tetra Pak. Crafoord was so impressed by Alwall’s innovations, and gripped by his stories of the sufferings of the kidney patients, that he immediately decided to pay for the continued development work. Ruben Rausing released Holger Crafoord from Åkerlund & Rausing and from Tetra Pak, and Crafoord invested large parts of its received capital in dialysis development. The business was placed in a company that Holger Crafoord had dormant in Stockholm, Gamla Brogatans Sjukvårdsaffär AB, which was soon shortened to Gambro. A significant assistant was Carl-Axel Björkengren, laboratory manager at Åkerlund & Rausing, who through his work in the packaging industry had good knowledge of various plastic materials. This came in handy during the development of the first disposable dialyzer according to Nils Alwall’s instructions. It was a so-called spiral kidney, where the filtering membranes were arranged in a spiral shape. As a parenthesis, it can be mentioned that the project was delayed at a time when Carl-Axel Björkengren himself suffered from acute kidney failure after a traffic accident. But thanks to dialysis treatment, he was restored and was able to return to development work. Inner cylinders for artificial kidney designed by Nils Alwall. Use for dialysis and ultrafiltration using overpressure. Photo: EMMA KRANTZ / KULTUREN I LUND / SYDSVENSKA MEDICINHISTORISKA SÄLSKAPET The spiral kidney worked well, but turned out to be too expensive for series production, and in addition it had to be sent to a specialist company in Eslöv every time the filter membranes were to be replaced. Soon, instead, a “plate dialyzer” was developed, where the membranes lie on top of each other in layers upon layers, and it was this that in 1967 began factory production under the name Ad Modum Alwall. The filters were mass-produced in a number of different variants, and the previously high price dropped radically. Gambro, who in the early years struggled with the brink of bankruptcy, launched the artificial kidney with disposable filters all over Europe. From the beginning of the 1970s, own production facilities were opened in the USA, Japan, Germany and Italy. A complete dialyzer factory was sold to the Soviet Union for licensed manufacturing. Sales companies were started in a dozen countries in Europe and North America. In collaboration with the British doctor Stanley Shaldon, they also began to develop methods for self-dialysis at home. After training in a hospital, and minor adaptations of the home (installation of a separate electrical outlet and water connection to the device), the patient had to borrow equipment and an individual treatment plan was drawn up. In addition to machines and filters, the dialysis process also needed blood tubes, dialysis fluid and qualified monitoring equipment, which were also developed within Gambro. The company became a high-tech cutting-edge company, which also developed products for other medical disciplines. In the magazine Affärsvärlden’s annual profitability list in 1976, Gambro was the first of all companies in all of Sweden, with a return of over 30 percent of working capital. Four years later, Gambro became the Crafoord Foundation in Lund, one of Sweden’s largest research funders. The donations have mainly gone to research purposes at universities and colleges in southern Sweden, including to the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University – Nils Alwall’s old university. In the early 1980s, Gambro made an IPO that became one of the most oversubscribed in the history of the Swedish stock exchange. The company continued to grow, and in 2006 they were bought out of the stock exchange by the investment companies EQT and Investor. Seven years later, it was acquired by the American healthcare group Baxter International, and now has about 8,000 employees in nine countries. Today, an estimated three million people in the world receive regular blood dialysis. And the building at Lund University Hospital, which houses the kidney clinic, was named Alwall House in 2009. Your bonus as a New Technology reader: A part of Swedish technology history You who are a subscriber to Ny Teknik digitally receive as an extra bonus a selection of articles from Teknikhistoria, a magazine about the technical and industrial development that led to society as it looks today – with a focus on Swedish development. Do you want to get a piece of history straight home in your mailbox? Sign up for your subscription today at: teknikhistoria.prenservice.se *The article has been translated based on the content of Nyteknik – Senaste nytt by www.nyteknik.se . If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much! *We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language. *We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards! Report Content

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Expert Collections containing Gambro

Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.

Gambro is included in 1 Expert Collection, including Pharma Startups.

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Pharma Startups

5,090 items

Pharmaceutical companies working across drug discovery, drug development and drug manufacturing.

Gambro Patents

Gambro has filed 495 patents.

The 3 most popular patent topics include:

  • Membrane technology
  • Nephrology
  • Fluid dynamics
patents chart

Application Date

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9/7/2018

10/5/2021

Fluid dynamics, Renal dialysis, Membrane technology, Brass instruments, Disinfectants

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Fluid dynamics, Renal dialysis, Membrane technology, Brass instruments, Disinfectants

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