PulmonIR is a Swansea-based, early-stage medical device company focused on the detection and monitoring of lung diseases, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). PulmonIR’s proprietary technology is based on the work of Professor Paul Lewis from Swansea University.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of the most common lung diseases in the UK and Professor Lewis has developed a new technology that can quickly and easily diagnose and monitor the condition. This technology is now being taken forward commercially through the spin-out company PulmonIR Ltd.
COPD affects over 330 million people worldwide at an estimated cost to healthcare providers of over $2 trillion a year. The primary cause, cigarette smoking and/or exposure to tobacco smoke, leads to irritated and inflamed lungs, causing permanent scarring; a breakdown of lung tissue and a narrowing of the airways and air sacs. Whilst irreversible, symptoms including breathlessness, a persistent cough, and regular chest infections can be treated. Where the causes can be eliminated, the disease can be slowed, giving a huge boost to the quality of life a sufferer can expect. Left untreated however, the condition becomes exacerbated, leading to frequent hospitalisation, at a current annual cost of £4 billion to the NHS.
Where COPD is present, the surface of molecules within a sample of sputum (coughed up mucus) contains a specific configuration of sugars. Professor Lewis discovered that by shining beams of infra-red light onto a sample, you could detect COPD from the unique frequency of infrared light bouncing off the sample.