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7 June, 2011 - 07:53 By Kate Sweeney

PneumaCare wins two Medical Futures Innovation Awards


A device developed by a University of Cambridge spin-out company, which uses video motion capture technology to diagnose and treat lung and respiratory disease, won two top prizes at the Medical Futures Innovation Awards ceremony in London.

PneumaScan, a device developed by PneumaCare Limited, came out on top in the respiratory category, and was also named as having the best business proposition of all the winners.

PneumaCare's products enable clinicians to evaluate a broad range of patients, many of whom are unable to use current techniques for monitoring lung function.

Using PneumaScan, patients can be assessed while breathing naturally or performing exercises without the need to directly interact with or contact the monitoring device.

Clinical trials of PneumaScan are about to start at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge – and the technology has further applications outside human health. Work is soon to start on a project at the Department of Veterinary Medicine.

Lung disease affects one in seven people in the UK, resulting in over 24 million doctor visits each year, at an annual cost of £500 million to primary care providers and £6.6 billion to the broader UK economy.

Over 300,000 specialist lung function tests are carried out each year and yet one in three patients is unable to use a spirometer, the existing technology used to monitor lung function.

Dr Ward Hills, CEO of PneumaCare, said: “Spirometers pose problems for many patients with lung problems. For example, small children have problems blowing into standard spirometers, because when they feel resistance, they stop blowing, preventing an accurate reading of lung function.

“Additionally, some older patients can actually be harmed due to the physical effort required by current approaches.”

PneumaScan utilises video motion capture technology in order to monitor lung function, producing accurate three-dimensional moving models of a patient’s respiration.

The device is simple to use for both clinicians and patients, accurate, cost-effective, and, as it is noncontact, is less likely to pass on hospital-based infections.

“We are honoured to receive this award,” said Dr Hills. “The Medical Futures Innovation Awards are one of the most prestigious awards in the healthcare sector and we are delighted that they have chosen to recognise PneumaCare.”

PneumaScan has been developed by PneumaCare in partnership with the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge-based design house Plextek Limited.

In 2009, PneumaCare was the first company to receive funding from the University of Cambridge Discovery Fund, one of three seed funds managed by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation group.

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