A National Health Service (NHS) funded study has launched in the UK, investigating whether the use of a smart inhaler will prevent children from having asthma flare-ups.

Manufactured by respiratory eHealth company Adherium, the Hailie device fixes onto a child’s prescribed inhaler. It monitors inhaler use and technique, as well as provides feedback to the child and their family via a smartphone app. It can also transmit information to the child’s medical team via an online portal, allowing them to monitor in real-time.

The 300-patient study will enrol children aged 5-16 years with high-risk asthma in Leicester, UK, and investigate whether the Hailie device prevents children from having asthma attacks, also known as flare-ups. The study, which has already started monitoring patients, will measure asthma control by rescue medication use, a symptom questionnaire, and the number of flare-ups.

Helicon Health, a University College London spin-out, will deploy, and support the digital inhalers in collaboration with the University of Leicester. The study is also supported with £499,871 in funding from the Small Business Research Initiative Healthcare (SBRI Healthcare), an NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative Initiative.

Study leader Erol Gaillard said: “We know that many people with asthma struggle with taking their medication regularly as prescribed. This study represents a huge joint effort from NHS, the University, charity and the medtech industry to demonstrate how devices like Hailie can help to better control asthma and keep children out of hospital.”

According to a report on GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center, there will be 271 million cases of asthma globally in 2027. Out of these, 44 million are diagnosed in the UK.

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The Hailie smart inhaler has been approved for use in combination with several different inhalers. Last month, the smart inhaler gained clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in combination with AstraZeneca’s Airsupra and Breztri inhalation devices. Airsupra is the first FDA-approved rescue medication for asthma while Breztri is a triple-combination therapy for COPD patients. In August 2022, the inhaler was approved for use in combination with GlaxoSmithKline’s Ellipta inhaler.

There is ongoing innovation in the asthma space, especially for children with the condition. In March 2024, UK-based TidalSense announced a new pilot study aimed at evaluating its N-Tidal device designed to test for respiratory conditions such as asthma in children. The device uses capnography instead of spirometry to measure CO₂ levels.