Gas-sensing capsule to help people with gut disorders


Thursday, 02 November, 2023

Gas-sensing capsule to help people with gut disorders

Breakthrough Victoria has announced it is investing in medical technology company Atmo Biosciences, to support the commercialisation of an ingestible gas-sensing capsule that can help diagnose functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). Breakthrough Victoria is an independent investment company established in 2021 to manage the state government’s $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund, supporting breakthrough innovations that will improve people’s lives and benefit the state of Victoria.

Atmo Biosciences has created a gas-sensing capsule the size of a vitamin pill which, when swallowed, can electronically report data about the human gastrointestinal system by detecting gases in real time from known locations within the gut. This data is then sent to Atmo’s cloud platform for analysis.

Unlike existing approaches that may be invasive, inaccurate or rely on trial and error, the gas-sensing capsule provides insight into microbiome function, from direct measurement of the gases produced by the microbiota, while allowing patients to go about day-to-day activities. This is expected to facilitate more targeted treatment, earlier relief of symptoms and reduced healthcare costs for FGID patients.

“Gastrointestinal disorders are a big problem in Australia and around the world, with patients suffering debilitating symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain,” said Atmo Biosciences CEO Mal Hebblewhite. “Unfortunately, due to shortcomings with current diagnostic methods, and despite frequent visits to the doctor, it’s estimated about 30% of sufferers remain undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed. Atmo is hoping to change that.”

Atmo’s first clinical application is a diagnostic tool for motility disorders (where food or waste doesn’t move properly through the digestive system), with a pivotal clinical study currently underway in Australia and the United States. The capsule is also in clinical trials for conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease, with a possible future application as a diagnostic tool for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

The technology was first invented at RMIT University in 2011 before being spun out into startup company Atmo and developed with commercialisation support from healthtech innovation company Planet Innovation. Breakthrough Victoria is investing in Atmo via a share purchase from Planet Innovation.

The investment follows Atmo Biosciences’ successful Series B investment round, which closed in February 2023. The company is currently preparing to launch its Series C investment round, which will fund Atmo’s commercialisation and manufacturing ramp-up in 2024.

“Atmo’s gas-sensing capsule is a world-first innovation developed and manufactured in Victoria with the potential to help millions of people suffering gut disorders around the world,” said Breakthrough Victoria CEO Grant Dooley.

“We’re excited to invest in Atmo during such an important stage of growth, including a pivotal clinical study, ramp-up of manufacturing and new investment round. The company has enormous potential for growth at a global scale and we look forward to working with them to help achieve these goals.”

Image credit: iStock.com/sefa ozel

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