Startup gets 2.5 million euro EU grant for nanotech-based respiratory device

NanoVation says monitor, based on technology developed by a Technion prof, can lead to early treatment for deteriorating COPD patients, which could reduce hospitalization and rehab

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The SenseGuard product developed by Israeli startup NanoVation (Courtesy)
The SenseGuard product developed by Israeli startup NanoVation (Courtesy)

Israel medical startup NanoVation has received a 2.5 million euro grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 EIC Accelerator program to help develop a new nano-material-based sensor that can warn of worsening respiratory conditions.

The Haifa based company is developing the new respiratory monitoring device, based on the nano-sensor technology developed by Prof. Hossam Haick of the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology.

The device seeks to monitor and manage patients with various respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung disease characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. The disease is the third leading cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organization.

The grant will allow NanoVation to further develop and commercialize its “SenseGuard” product, to monitor patients at hospitals and at home, in real time and non-invasively, the company said.

The SenseGuard product developed by Israeli startup NanoVation (Courtesy)

SenseGuard is a wireless wearable medical device for continuous monitoring of patients’ breathing, based on information collected by the sensor, which detects various respiratory parameters like respiratory rate, apnea and breath volume, and translates these into clinical information and raises the alarm before the patient reaches a critical point.

The device has already gone through clinical trials and received Europe’s CE regulatory nod, “proving that the technology is both safe and highly accurate in monitoring the respiration of patients,” the statement said.

The technology is currently being deployed in hospitals in Israel and the EU for further clinical research to prove its capabilities, the firm said in a statement.

Some 328 million people worldwide are classified as suffering from COPD, according to 2010 World Health Organization data. The economic cost is estimated at an annual $49 billion in the US and a similar amount in the EU.

Approximately half of all direct COPD costs are associated with hospitalization due to deterioration of respiratory function. These costs could be significantly reduced through a monitoring device that identifies any deterioration early and leads to a dramatic reduction in the need for hospitalization through treatment intervention at the patient’s home, NanoVation said in a statement.

“Lung function changes indicating a worsening condition can appear up to three weeks before reaching an acute state that often leads to hospitalization and a lengthy rehabilitation,” said Dr. Gregory Shuster, the CEO and co-founder of NanoVation. “The residual lung damage will impair quality of life, or in the worst-case lead to death.”

“Our pioneering device aims to enable identification of the early signs of deterioration in lung function, and enables early treatment,” Shuster added. “The cost of preventive intervention and treatment ranges from tens to hundreds of dollars, while they minimize unnecessary hospitalizations, which would cost between $10,000 and $40,000 for an individual in the US and between €3,000 and €10,000 in Europe, and translate into billions of dollars annually for the entire health system.”

Horizon 2020 is one of the biggest EU research and innovation programs. It supports small and medium-sized enterprises that have breakthrough innovation projects and aims to promote and fund discoveries and world-firsts by taking ideas from the lab to the market.

NanoVation was founded in 2014 as a spinoff from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and is led by Shuster, CTO Nadav Bachar, and Haick, the developer of the technology and the company’s CSO. The firm has raised $6 million in two rounds of financing and grant support from the EU Horizon 2020 program, as well as the Israel Innovation Authority.

In 2014, NanoVation contributed its nano-sensing technology to the NaNose project, which tried to detect cancer through what looked like a breathalyzer. The firm is not currently part of that project.

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