Lung-health startup Respira Labs inhales $2.8M to help respiration patients breathe easier

Respira Labs, a medical technology company specializing in respiratory care, which first unveiled its product to the world last year, successfully raised $1 million in funding and an additional $1.8 million in grants to continue building its acoustic resonance technology to assess lung function and changes therein. Tracking both is a critical aspect for patients with COVID-19, COPD, asthma and other lung afflictions.

The pre-seed round was led by Latin America-focused biotech investor Zentynel Frontier Investments, with participation from academic incubation investors VentureWell, mission-driven impact investor ImpactAssets and a few additional angels from the United States and Latin America. On top of the investment raised, the company was awarded an additional $1.8 million in grants from Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes for Health (NIH).

The company has feasibility trials underway with 30 patients across Florida and California, and the company is working to obtain FDA clearance for its product over the next couple of years. The device the company is working on is a wearable, non-invasive lung-function monitoring device that uses microphones to detect lung function.

The company has been granted three patents for its technology, including, crucially, one for using a piezo-electric signal (such as a pulse, or a tone) projected into a human body, which then can be analyzed to determine a lung’s resonant frequency and how the sound is absorbed, reflected or modified by the body. The cool thing is that this signal can be used to determine lung capacity, volume of air trapped in the lungs and the presence of COPD.

“We’re excited to be making strides in a highly competitive space and are grateful to the organizations who care deeply about our mission and technology,” said Dr. Maria Artunduaga, Respira Lab’s founder and CEO. “We have the potential to help improve the lives of millions of people living with lung issues around the world. Early detection is key, and our technology will help people identify problems earlier to avoid dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations.”

“For us, it is an honor to be able to invest in companies with the vision and leadership that Respira Labs has. Its Latin American background and subject-matter expertise are a perfect match for us,” said Cristian Hern├índez-Cuevas, general partner at Zentynel. “We are convinced that no one else is trying to tackle the monitoring of lung function, from an acoustic point of view, with the sophistication and rigor with which Respira Lab is doing it. This opens the door to a huge market that will continue to grow in a post-COVID world.”

In addition to the funding, Respira has been growing its product development — something the funding will further accelerate. A propos acceleration; the company shared with me that it was selected to participate in the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center accelerator and biotech incubator.