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UK Diagnostics Firm PulmoBioMed Raises £1.4M to Commercialize Breath Test Device

NEW YORK – Northumbria University spinout PulmoBioMed announced on Friday that it has closed a £1.4 million ($1.77 million) funding round to commercialize its breath testing device. 

The investment round was led by the North East Venture Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia Ventures. It included Northumbria University, SFC Capital, and private investors in the US, UK, and European Union, the company said in a statement. 

The firm has also been awarded a £700,000 grant from Innovate UK to demonstrate the benefits of its technology. The funding will be used to develop a cost-effective manufacturing process to scale up production and develop clinical utility evidence in asthma diagnosis.

The handheld PBM-Hale device captures breath as a patient exhales and separates the large aerosol droplets that come from the mouth and the fine droplets that come from the deep lung, PulmoBioMed said. Traditional sampling devices can't distinguish between fluids from the deep lung and fluids from the mouth, "which can give unclear or misleading diagnostic results," the firm said. 

In clinical studies, the device was shown to provide uncontaminated deep lung samples in two minutes that helped detect and quantify lung infections and inflammation in 100 percent of symptomatic cases, the company added. The device consists of a face mask, a disposable mouthpiece, a condenser, and a sealed sampling unit. 

PulmoBioMed said it initially plans to target the US market and focus on asthma diagnosis, although its device can be used to diagnose other conditions, such as pneumonia. It could also be used in lung cancer patients to detect returning tumors and identify proper treatments. 

The Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based firm is currently in discussion with multiple potential customers within the US, EU, and Asia, it noted.

"PulmoBioMed was founded during the pandemic to address the need for reliable breath-based diagnostics," Founder and CEO Sterghios Moschos said in a statement. "We have solved fundamental problems to enable quick and noninvasive deep lung sampling, with minimal training, and as frequently as necessary."