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Avelo, Vivolta, Blink Win €1.5M Grant for Breath-Based Lower Respiratory Tract Infection Test

NEW YORK – A trio of firms has been awarded a €1.5M ($1.6 million) Eurostars grant to support development of a lower respiratory tract infection test using breath-based samples and a point-of-care digital PCR analyzer.

The two-year award supports the firms Avelo, Vivolta, and Blink in the development of a cartridge-based test to distinguish bacterial and viral infections, as well as to detect pathogens and drug resistance genes within 30 minutes, the firms said on Thursday.

Dubbed the BreathCounts project, the three firms plan to use the Eurostar funds to develop a disposable breath collection device and a high-throughput diagnostic test, which the firms said will be the world's first breath-based system capable of fast, accurate, and specific diagnosis of lower respiratory tract infections.

The diagnostic will include a novel breath sampling device developed by Avelo, called AveloCollect, that captures pathogens directly from exhaled breath through a proprietary electrospun filter technology. It will also include Respirex, a molecular diagnostic test developed by Blink that uses a point-of-care digital PCR analyzer. Vivolta will contribute its electrospun filter technologies, which it will optimize and scale up for commercialization by leveraging its proprietary MediSpin platform, a fully automated, mass production system qualified for electrospun medical products.

The firms noted that swab or saliva samples can miss lower respiratory tract infections, while sputum samples can be difficult to obtain and bronchoalveolar lavage is invasive. The AveloCollect breath collector, in contrast, is noninvasive and rapid.

Blink's Respirex, meanwhile, is a specialized lower respiratory tract infection test that rapidly identifies multiple pathogens at once, measured from a single AveloCollect breath sample via nanoreactor bead technology. The test is run on a point-of-care digital PCR analyzer called Blink One.

The firms said the Respirex assay will be produced in the form of a cartridge, containing all reagents necessary for the test, which can reduce the time to results and variability.

Melanie Aregger, cofounder and CEO of Avelo, said in a statement that the trio is "highly synergistic, and its expertise will greatly support our journey towards improving the diagnosis of LRTIs and clinical outcomes, as well as combatting antimicrobial resistance."

Avelo, Vivolta, and Blink — which are based in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany, respectively — said that the project lays the foundation for market launch in 2027.