Funding for handheld device that diagnoses asthma earlier

Handheld technology that could lead to earlier diagnosis of asthma and other conditions has attracted £1.4m in investment to help towards commercialisation.


Investment into PulmoBioMed, a Northumbria University spin-out, was led by the North East Venture Fund, 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 grant from Innovate UK to help it demonstrate the benefits of its technology.

PulmoBioMed said its breath sampling technology offers a fast, non-invasive way to obtain fluid samples from the deep lung without contamination from fluids from the mouth. Most sampling devices cannot distinguish between the two, so may result in an unclear or misleading diagnosis, while other methods are highly invasive and cannot be performed frequently, or suffer contamination from the environment.


PulmoBioMed’s PBM-Hale device captures the breath as the patient exhales. It then 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 two minutes that helped detect and quantify lung infections and inflammation in 100 per cent of symptomatic cases.

The company initially plans to target the US market and focus on asthma diagnosis, though the device is suitable for diagnosing other conditions including pneumonia. Easy to use and reportedly over 40 times cheaper than endoscopy, PBM-Hale could also improve outcomes for lung cancer patients by providing a better way to detect returning tumours and identify the best treatments.

The company, which is in discussion with several potential customers, said the funding will enable it to develop a cost-effective manufacturing process to scale up production and register its product in the US.

In a statement, Dr Sterghios 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.

“Over 300 million asthma patients suffer slow diagnosis and millions of others are hospitalised every year with pneumonias that are impossible to diagnose with current tests. By helping clinicians understand their patient’s disease and select treatments that work, PBM-Hale, has the potential to transform respiratory care.”