16.03.2016 change 16.03.2016

Polish pocket spirometer can make life easier for people with asthma and COPD

MySpiroo. Source: HealthUp MySpiroo. Source: HealthUp

Portable spirometer that connects wirelessly to a smartphone app can help people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). With the device, patients, nurses or primary care doctors will be able to monitor whether the progress of the disease.

People with asthma or COPD might soon have much easier access to spirometers, devices that are used today mainly by pulmonologists in the diagnosis and monitoring of lung diseases. Polish innovators from the company HealthUp are working on MySpiroo - inexpensive, portable spirometer managed by a smartphone app. The data from the device can be sent to the application via Bluetooth. The app shows the results of measurements, collect the history of tests and allows to easily search and compare them.

"We want to give the ability to take spirometry measurements to nurses and doctors making home visits. Or centres that do not have spirometers. Ultimately, patients themselves will also be able to use this device" - explained in an interview with PAP one of the founders of the company HealthUp, Dr. Łukasz Kołtowski, MD.

The second founder of HealthUp, Piotr Bajtal added that traditional spirometers are big and not very handy. And they cost a few thousand zlotys. They are too expensive for patients to be interested in buying them. "Meanwhile, MySpiroo will be a far cheaper device - we assume that its price will be approx. 10 times lower than conventional spirometers" - hopes the innovator. He added that the device will be small (11 x 5.5 x 3.5 cm), comparable to the iPhone, so it will be easy to toss in the backpack and always have it at hand.

Dr. Kołtowski reminded that spirometer measures the speed and volume of exhaled air. These measurements allow to determine whether a person has disorders associated with narrowing of the bronchial tubes or lung volume reduction. "Fitted with additional sensors, MySpiroo could be used in the diagnosis of patients not only with lung disease. It will help distinguish respiratory disease from other diseases in which dyspnea can occur - but not of pulmonary origin (such as heart failure)" - Dr. Kołtowski told PAP.

Bajtal added that the device would work a bit differently than traditional spirometers. Conventional spirometers use measurement methods based on pressure measurements of exhaled air or, for example, Doppler effect analysis, the methods that are sensitive to environmental factors. MySpiroo we will use an alternative method. Additionally, during the measurement the device will also measure heart rate and blood oxygenation - the parameters important in COPD, asthma and heart disease. Measurement will only require putting a finger on the sensor. The test is performed using light waves.

Patients with asthma have a spirometry once per year, sometimes once per several years, and those with moderate or severe - more often, depending on the doctor\'s recommendations. There is evidence that during periods of acute exacerbations, monitoring of bronchial obstruction allows to start appropriate treatment faster and achieve improvement. "If a patient has a spirometer at home, he can quickly take measurement at any time. We want to see if we can lead the patient so that he can perform the test properly. We know from experience that patients with asthma have had spirometry many times and do it very well" - said Kołtowski.

He compared the test with blood pressure measurement. Availability of blood pressure meters allows patients with hypertension to check blood pressure at any time - if, for example, they feel worse, they take blood pressure and check their health. A spirometer, in turn, can make life much easier for patients with asthma or COPD.

The device will not make a diagnosis or interpret the results. "To be sure - patients will always need to consult with a doctor, even remotely, using a communicator" - noted Kołtowski. The doctor hopes, however, that over time the device will be developed and capable of analysing the measurement results and making recommendations to patients.

MySpiroo is currently at the stage of a working, advanced prototype. This year it will undergo clinical trials and obtain authorisation as a medical product. "We still have a long way to go" - concluded Dr. Łukasz Kołtowski.

Innovators from HealthUp acquired 4.3 million zlotys in the first round of funding for the product MySpiroo from the Joint Polish Investment Fund (JPIF). JPIF is a collaboration of companies Adiuvo Management BRAN and Investments with the National Centre for Research and Development under the BRIdge VC programme.

Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) alerted that 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, and in 15 years their number will increase to 400 million. In Poland there are probably around 4 million people with asthma, the highest incidence is among children under five years of age.

When it comes to COPD, the WHO projections show that in 2020 COPD will be the third cause of death, after cardiovascular diseases and tumors. In 1990 it was the sixth leading cause of death. One of the main reasons, apart from air pollution, is exposure to tobacco smoke.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Ludwika Tomala

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