Breakthrough Victoria invests in Atmo’s gastrointestinal disorder diagnostic technology

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Breakthrough Victoria has announced that it is investing in medical technology company Atmo Biosciences and its world-first gas-sensing capsule designed to help diagnose functional gastrointestinal disorders. 

The capsule, which is as small as a vitamin pill when swallowed, is designed to electronically report data about the human gastrointestinal system by detecting gases in real time from known locations within the gut. The data is then sent to Atmo’s cloud platform for analysis. 

The technology allows for a non-invasive approach that provides insight into microbiome function while allowing patients to go about day-to-day activities. 

The method is expected to facilitate more targeted treatment, earlier relief of symptoms, and reduced healthcare costs. 

The first clinical application for the capsule will be for the diagnosis of motility disorders, a condition in which food or waste does not move properly through the digestive system. A pivotal clinical study is currently underway in Australia and the United States, Breakthrough Victoria said in a media release. 

“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. Unfortunately, due to shortcomings with current diagnostic methods, and despite frequent visits to the doctor, it’s estimated about 30 per cent of sufferers remain undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed. Atmo is hoping to change that,” said Atmo Biosciences CEO Mal Hebblewhite. 

Atmo is also looking into the possible applications of the capsule as a diagnostic tool for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, and bloating. 

Independent research organisations are using the capsule for a variety of conditions, such as irritable syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and liver disease.

The technology was first developed at RMIT University in 2011 before being spun into startup company Atmo and developed with commercialisation support from health tech innovation company Planet Innovation. 

Breakthrough Victoria is investing in Atmo through a share purchase from Planet Innovation. The investment Atmo Biosciences’ successful Series B investment round, which closed in February 2023. 

“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,” Grant Dooley, CEO of Breakthrough Victoria. “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.”