Spin-out raises £1.4m for lung test to aid early diagnosis of asthma
Published on 09/02/2024
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK – February 8 2024 PulmoBioMed
, a UK-based university spin-out is developing a new lung test that could lead to earlier diagnosis of asthma, a condition which currently affects more than 27 million people in the US1 and kills 10 people, on average, every day.1
The company is readying to launch PBM-Hale™ into the US market following a successful investment round that raised £1.4m ($1.75m) to commercialize the technology. The technology will be of interest to researchers, Contract Research Organizations (CROs) and pharma companies seeking to identify and stratify patients with a range of lung conditions.
PulmoBioMed’s innovative breath sampling technology offers a fast, non-invasive way to obtain fluid samples from the deep lung without contamination by fluids from the mouth. Traditional sampling devices cannot distinguish between the two, which can give unclear or misleading diagnostic results, while other methods are highly invasive and cannot be performed frequently or suffer contamination from the environment.
The hand-held device, PBM-Hale™, captures the breath as the patient exhales and separates large aerosol droplets which come from the mouth from fine droplets which come from the deep lung. Clinical studies have shown that it provided uncontaminated deep lung samples in just two minutes that helped detect and quantify lung infections and inflammation in 100% of symptomatic cases. The product's performance is underpinned by peer-reviewed,[GU1] independent research, which is available fully open-access, and[GU2] has been featured at conferences in the USA, EU, and UK[GU3] .2
The device, which consists of a facemask, disposable mouthpiece, condenser and a sealed sampling unit, allows for optimal and customizable sampling process control. It is easy to use and over 40 times cheaper than endoscopy, an invasive technique where a tube is inserted into the lung with a one in seven risk of injury.3
PulmoBioMed was founded in 2020 by Professor Sterghios A. Moschos, a molecular biologist with over 20 years of experience, who achieved international renown as leader of the team that developed a point-of-need test for Ebola virus disease in 2015 during the outbreak in West Africa. He is backed by a team of experts including Professor Sir Peter J. Barnes FRS, a world authority on airway diseases, and Dr Huw Edwards, the founding CEO of the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association.
PulmoBioMed has already completed one successful UK government contract and won several accolades including the 2021 Bionow Inevitability Competition.4 The company initially plans to target the US market and focus on asthma diagnosis, though the device is suitable for diagnosing other conditions including types of pneumonia. It could also improve outcomes for lung cancer patients by providing a better way to detect returning tumors and identify the best treatments.
Funds were raised by an investment round led by the North East Venture Fund (NEVF)
, supported by the European Regional Development Fund
and managed by Mercia Ventures
, and included Northumbria University
, SFC Capital
and private investors in the USA, EU and UK. The company has also secured a £700,000 ($890,000) grant from Innovate UK
to help it demonstrate the benefits of its technology. The funding will enable it to develop a cost-effective manufacturing process to scale up production and develop clinical utility evidence in asthma diagnosis. The company is currently in discussion with several potential customers within the US, EU and Far East Asia.
Professor Moschos, founder and CEO, said: “PulmoBioMed was founded during the pandemic to address the need for reliable breath-based diagnostics. We have solved fundamental problems to enable quick and non-invasive deep lung sampling, with minimal training, and as frequently as necessary. Globally, over 300 million asthma patients suffer slow diagnosis and millions of others are hospitalized every year with pneumonias that are impossible to diagnose with current tests. Lung cancer survivors also have limited options to monitor their disease and when they relapse, their doctors cannot test their tumors to choose treatments that will work. By helping clinicians understand their patient’s disease and select treatments that work, PBM-Hale™ has the potential to transform respiratory care.”
Professor Andy Long, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at Northumbria University, said: “PulmoBioMed’s technology has the potential to deliver enormous impact in healthcare on a global scale and we are thrilled to see this recognized through strong investor confidence in this Northumbria spin-out. This investment success reflects the calibre of the University’s growing pipeline of intellectual property arising from our world-class research and highly entrepreneurial teams. It further evidences our commitment to driving economic growth in the region, boosting the development of new businesses and supporting the creation of new high-quality jobs here in the North East of the UK.”
Alex Simpson of Mercia Ventures added: “PulmoBioMed’s success demonstrates the rise of the health tech industry in regions like the North East of the UK. World-class innovations are no longer confined to the ‘golden triangle’ of Oxford, Cambridge, and London – regional companies like PulmoBioMed are emerging as important players, thanks in part to the strength of regional universities and support available from funds such as the NEVF alongside private investors.”