Kaer Biotherapeutics of Escondido has received a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health — specifically, a phase 2 small business innovation research (SBIR) grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

The grant will help Kaer and its CEO, Donovan Yeates, produce a medical device that will deliver surfactant aerosol therapy for the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is a sudden onset of congestion in the lungs.

The device, called Supraer, solves the problem of getting high concentrations of large molecules, such as antibodies, into an aerosol state, where they can be easily inhaled. The device is particularly suited for delivering surfactant — a mixture of lipids and proteins necessary for the lungs to function — directly into the lungs of patients with acute respiratory distress.

In the system, a liquid aerosol is generated with a low-shear nozzle, dried, concentrated and delivered through a tube at the opposite end of the unit. Kaer says its machine can deliver a dose five to 20 times higher than current nebulizer technologies.

Yeates and Kaer received their phase 1 SBIR grant in 2015.

The latest grant was announced in October.