Breathing new life into disease diagnosis

A child breathes into PBMHale breath analysing device

PulmoBioMed’s PBM-HALE™

New research shows 100 per cent effectiveness of an innovative breath sampling device developed by Northumbria University medtech spinout, PulmoBioMed. PBM-HALE™ is a game-changing device that could revolutionise diagnosis of a range of diseases, including COVID-19.

The hand-held aerosol collecting device allows sampling of the lung in a non-invasive way – by patients simply breathing into it.

Previous inventions for sampling breath are challenged by issues of contamination, sample loss and variability. PBM-Hale™ resolves these issues, with the company’s latest clinical study showing that the device detected 100 per cent of COVID-19 cases tested.

Dr Sterghios Moschos, Associate Professor at Northumbria University and Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of PulmoBioMed:

“Our study is the first to show that the virus can be detected in the fine aerosol particles generated in the lung, even in resting breath. It shows the virus is found mostly in the tiniest particles we breathe out, not the saliva that might be accidentally spit out as we breathe or speak.

“This means that using our device in combination with the standard PCR test used worldwide, we can detect the genome of the virus in 100% of patients, when sampling the breath for just one minute. This would identify anyone infectious or shedding virus.

“We are also the first to show that the amount of virus produced is 90 times higher on average if you sing loudly. It reinforces why high-quality masks are important to prevent transmission indoors, and why ventilating enclosed spaces is critical to preventing transmission. These small particles are known to linger for hours if the space is not ventilated.

“The study shows that PBM-HALE™ can be used to study infections of the deep lung with no need for invasive procedures that present high risk to the patient and cost thousands to healthcare systems – all in a simple, hand-held device.”

From lab to life – Northern Accelerator support

The process of taking academic technology to create PulmoBioMed was made possible by support from Northern Accelerator. Our pre-incorporation funding supported the development of the first functional prototype. Northumbria graduate, Saqib Ali, was appointed as a Design Engineer at PulmoBioMed and carried out the rapid prototyping of PBM-HALE™ using 3D printers within the University’s engineering labs.

Our executives into business programme supported the onboarding of the executive team, and Dr Moschos benefitted from training with Future Founders.

Additional support

PulmoBioMed also benefitted from North by Northwest Partner’s ‘Innovation to the Commercialisation of University Research’ (ICURe) programme, which helped validate the market for the spinout’s technology. The company won additional funding from Innovate UK to support the first 18 months of business development activities.

Findings from the study come as the company announces the appointment of world-leading clinical respiratory scientist Professor Peter J Barnes FRS, FMedSci as its new clinical non-executive director. Ranked the most highly cited clinical scientist in the UK and the most highly cited respiratory researcher world-wide for the past 20 years, Professor Barnes has published over 1,000 peer-reviewed papers on asthma, COPD and other airways disease and serves on the editorial boards of over 30 academic journals.
Taking innovative technology to market.

For a more detailed explanation of the PBM-HALE™ device, you can watch the video explainer on Northumbria’s Vimeo channel.