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This UK startup wants to revolutionize COPD measurement

In 1846, London surgeon John Hutchinson invented the spirometer, which doctors ask asthmatics to blow hard into to measure lung volume. Simple concept. Despite that, technology has barely changed. Modern spirometers don’t measure CO2 expelled by the lungs, a crucial COPD indicator.

A Cambridge, UK, startup has developed a revolutionary new technology device that measures CO2, is affordable, portable, and requires minimal training.

TidalSense, a healthtech company, raised £7.5 million ($9.3 million) from UK investors BGF and Downing Ventures.

Cambridge-based N-Tidal detects lung function changes sensitively and automates COPD diagnosis. Product roadmaps include asthma measurements.

COPD killed 3.23 million people worldwide in 2019. It may get worse due to global pollution.

Despite 1840s technology, the spirometer market is expected to reach $616 million in 2023 and US$1042.3 million by 2033, growing at 5.4%.

Spirometers are easily fooled when patients vary how hard they blow, and they cannot distinguish between respiratory conditions or provide severity information. Spirometer testing takes 30 minutes. 200–250 people per 500,000 in England wait 5–10 years for a diagnostic test.

TidalSense’s N-Tidal device can measure a patient’s breath in less than five minutes and send the data to a cloud-based platform via 2G networks.

I tried the device, and it measured my lungs in less than three minutes.

In an interview with , co-founder Dr. Ameera Patel (pictured, right), CEO of TidalSense and an asthma sufferer, said, “This hardware has been developed for eight years. It has several patents. The sensor measures every carbon dioxide molecule exhaled. We can detect lung deterioration very sensitively with all this data.

She says, “They don’t know when they’re getting sicker. This device will alert me to increase my inhalers immediately. It’s the difference between managing your symptoms and landing in the hospital because you had no data on the lead-up to things getting worse.”

Through clinical trials and benchmarking, the company has collected over 2.3 million breaths from 1,000 patients.

Because COPD changes lung structure, we have high COPD diagnosis accuracy. “With the funding, we built very accurate diagnostic tests from the data,” Patel said.

“This solution is a prime example of where advanced machine learning techniques can be applied to deliver faster diagnostics, greater efficiencies, and better patient outcomes,” said BGF Head of Early Stage Investments Tim Rea.

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