Healthtech company TidalSense has closed an €8.6 million fundraising round led by investors BGF and Downing. The fresh capital will be used for building out TidalSense’s diagnostics business further and targeting the primary care and diagnostics provider market in the UK.
The Cambridge-based AI-driven company has created a handheld medical device (N-Tidal) that detects changes in lung function sensitively and enables quicker, more accurate and automated diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with asthma to follow.
COPD and asthma currently affect 1/10 of the world’s population, a figure that is rising steadily. It is one of the costliest conditions within healthcare systems, with the majority of costs associated with hospitalisations due to patient exacerbations in the later stages of disease. Early detection and diagnosis have the potential to slow the trajectory of the disease and globally, the COPD and asthma diagnostics and monitoring market is estimated to be €7.4 billion per year.
Tim Rea, Head of Early Stage Investments at BGF says: “As investors, we are focused on supporting transformational innovation. We have evaluated a broad range of propositions that involve the application of machine learning and are excited by the opportunities in the healthcare sector where we see scope to apply new tools to unmet needs.
The investor highlighted that the number of people living with respiratory diseases, particularly COPD and asthma, is rising globally, yet diagnosis and management are poor and expensive. “The current standard of care leads to increased hospitalisations and deaths, and puts additional burden onto already stretched healthcare systems. TidalSense’s solution is a prime example of where advanced machine learning techniques can be applied to deliver faster diagnostics, greater efficiencies and better patient outcomes.”, added Rea.
Matt Pierce, Investment Director at Downing, says: “The UK currently has some extremely exciting R&D projects in the med-tech and life science sectors, which are attracting both investment and attention. TidalSense is a company that is a front-runner in cutting-edge, healthcare AI innovation, an area which has strategic importance to the UK and which also reflects global growth and demand.”
Current testing for COPD and asthma involve spirometry, an 1840s technology which takes 30 minutes per test and which has a number of known shortfalls. The process is widely known to be uncomfortable for patients, requires specialist training, is time-consuming for both patients and clinicians and is technique dependent, often leading to misdiagnosis.
By contrast, N-Tidal’s diagnostic test will be delivered at the point of care, can be completed within less than five minutes and doesn’t require specialist training. It relies on relaxed breathing, eliminating technique dependence and therefore reducing misdiagnosis. Furthermore, a preliminary usability study shows that 99% of patients agree that they find the test easy to perform. The device has been used on over 1000 patients, collecting over 2.3 million breaths from patients through clinical studies and trials. Using this data and the company’s AI platform, N-Tidal is able to provide near-real-time analysis of patient lung health and can provide a diagnosis within minutes.
Dr Ameera Patel, CEO of TidalSense commented: “COPD is the third leading cause of death in the world and prevalence of respiratory diseases is rising. But the current clinical pathway for COPD diagnostics is stuck in the 1800s and is ineffective, inefficient and expensive. In England alone, the NHS estimates that a third of people with hospital admissions from COPD have not been diagnosed, by which point their disease has progressed, their quality of life has deteriorated and the cost to the healthcare system has ballooned.”.
“Quick, reliable and accurate diagnostics have the potential to slash waiting lists and slow the trajectory of respiratory diseases. That’s why we’ve developed N-Tidal, which will enable earlier, accurate detection of COPD and will result in better patient outcomes and reduced costs for healthcare environments in the long-term.”, added Patel.