A University of Glasgow spin-out which aims to create more effective methods of treating lung diseases has secured a £1m grant from Innovate UK.

The award will help the Acu-Flow team and their research partners advance the development of their nebuliser technology, which uses an innovative surface acoustic wave technique to deliver medicines into patients’ lungs.

The grant is one of 17 projects funded by the Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst programme, which provides funding for new healthcare products, technologies and processes.

Over the next two years, the Acu-Flow team, supported by partners at the University of Glasgow and the NIHR Devices for Dignity Med-tech Co-operative, will work to develop a fully-integrated nebuliser, ready to take to large-scale manufacture.

Acu-Flow’s technology (known as Nebu~Flow) works by producing droplets from a wide range of formulations within the clinical proven optimum range, capable of reaching patients’ lungs and maximising the treatment’s effectiveness, so reducing the time required to deliver a dose.

The Acu-Flow team expect to use their nebuliser platform to deliver new nanomedicines and vaccines, including biologics, to individuals. 

Dr Elijah Nazarzadeh, Acu-Flow Ltd’s chief executive and a co-founder, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this significant grant from Innovate UK, which will allow us to accelerate our research and development over the next two years, helping us to bring our innovative and potentially life-changing technology to market.

“Respiratory diseases are the world’s leading causes of disability and death. Collectively, they add a huge burden to global health services. The Covid-19 pandemic has made us all aware of respiratory disease and the importance of new treatments to alleviate their effects.”

“While treatments for some of these diseases have advanced significantly in recent years, there are still significant challenges to overcome the efficient delivery of drugs directly to patients’ lungs. Our new technology will not only improve the amount of drug reaching the lung, but will enable new drug formulations, helping pharmaceutical companies to develop the next generation of life-changing treatments."

Professor Jonathan Cooper of the University of Glasgow’s James Watt School of Engineering, a co-founder of the company, said: “We are delighted to support the University’s spin-out progress, enabling their products to better deliver inhaled drugs.

“In addition to the benefits for patients, Acu-Flow’s methods also greatly reduce the associated carbon footprint with respiratory disorders, helping contribute to sustainability targets within healthcare, as we all strive to meet net zero." 

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Left to right are K.K. Wopat, Julien Reboud, Elijah Nazarzadeh, and Christian Witte of Nebu-Flow (by Stewart Attwood)