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20 January 2022

New collaboration with digital therapeutics company to investigate preventable opioid respiratory deaths

A new collaboration between the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London and the digital therapeutics company, PneumoWave, will undertake a clinical trial collecting data on the features of opioid overdoses within the safety of clinical settings.

drug dose

The research, which is being led by NIHR Maudsley BRC theme lead for Addictions, Professor Sir John Strang, will investigate how to prevent deaths from breathing problems in opioid users.

PneumoWave’s respiratory monitoring platform will collect breathing data from patients at risk of experiencing slow and shallow breathing – respiratory depression - as a side effect of use of heroin or other opioid medication. Without treatment, respiratory depression can cause life threatening complications, contributing directly to the annual toll of 150,000 opioid overdose deaths globally. It is hoped that findings from the trial will lead to the development of life-saving interventions to prevent drug related deaths – now the largest cause of accidental death in most developed countries.

The trial will build on extensive previous research undertaken by the Addictions team. It is expected to be the first trial in an ongoing collaboration between PneumoWave and King’s IoPPN during the development and validation of PneumoWave’s core technologies. It forms part of a national program of clinical research as the company develops digital health and therapeutic solutions for a range of respiratory conditions.

“Working together with my team, I am very excited about this new collaboration and its potential to apply science to make the world a safer place for one of our most vulnerable groups. With drug-related deaths at an all-time high in the UK and globally, we need to develop better ways to reduce this loss of life. It is essential that we drive new scientific studies and develop new technologies that have real potential to save lives.”

Professor Sir John Strang, Head of Addictions at King’s IoPPN and theme lead for Substance use at the NIHR Maudsley BRC

Dr Bruce Henderson, founder and CEO of PneumoWave commented, “The technology behind PneumoWave was specifically developed to reduce deaths from respiratory conditions. The research facilities at King’s College London, and their highly skilled team, make it one of the few places in the world where the data we require can be safely captured.”

Professor Peter Goadsby, Director of the NIHR/Wellcome Clinical Research Facility said, “Professor Sir John Strang is a pioneer in the development of therapeutic approaches for protecting a very vulnerable group. We are pleased in the Clinical Research Facility to have a role in the development of this cutting-edge approach to a life-threatening problem.”


For more information, please contact Patrick O'Brien (Senior Media Officer)

In this story

Peter Goadsby

Director of NIHR Clinical Research Facility & Professor of Neurology