Lightweight: X-PLOR gives COPD patients real mobilityLung conditions, from asthma to bronchitis to long Covid, are on the rise. More than 500million people suffer from severe respiratory issues, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which has become the third biggest cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organisation. Sufferers are often barely able to leave the home, spending hours stuck in bed or an armchair, strapped to a huge piece of kit to help them breathe. But it does not have to be that way. Portable oxygen machines allow users to go shopping when they feel like it, meet friends or even go for gentle hikes – and Belluscura has developed a set of devices that are lighter and more effective than any on the market to date. The company floated on AIM at 45p in May 2021. The shares shot up to £1.20 by January 2022 but they have since drifted back to 56p. At this level, they are a strong buy. Portable oxygen machines are not new but Belluscura has taken the concept to a new level. Its first device X-PLOR, weighs just 3½ pounds, can be strapped to the back or worn over the shoulder and delivers 95 per cent pure oxygen to patients whenever they need it. The second device, DISCOV-R, will be launched early next year and is even more sophisticated, able to deliver oxygen both continuously and on a pulse basis, depending on users’ preferences. Weighing just over 6 pounds, it is heavier than X-PLOR but still half the weight of competitor products, while packing more of a punch. Both models are 10-20 per cent cheaper than rivals too. They come with an app – called Nomad – that tracks users’ oxygen levels throughout the day. The information can be shared with their doctor. Belluscura was founded in the UK but it is headquartered in Texas and run by Bob Rauker, a patent lawyer, who has spent most of his career in the medical device sector and is an inventor in his own right, helping to create the XPLOR machine. Both X-PLOR and DISCOV-R have been approved by US health watchdog, the FDA, and last week, the company received ISO certification, which should allow the group to sell its kit in the UK, Continental Europe and Asia by 2024. Even as Belluscura goes through the approval process, the group is set fair, signing deals with major US healthcare firms and launching its own ecommerce shop so individuals can buy the kit directly, for around $2,000 (£1,750). Oxygen machines are currently made in Texas, under Rauker’s watchful eye, but earlier this year, he signed an agreement with a leading electronics manufacturer and the Chinese authorities to open a plant in China, home to 100million sufferers from COPD. The new facility will take its lead from the Texas plant and should double Belluscura’s manufacturing capacity. It will also lower costs and provide access to China and the Asian market more broadly. Analysts expect great things from Belluscura. Last year, Rauker sold 377 pieces of kit. This year, sales of 2000 are forecast, rising to 18,000 next year and 70,000 by 2025. The company is loss-making right now but should make a small profit next year, soaring to $15.6million 2024 and more than $40million in 2025. Even at this rate of growth, Rauker’s firm will still only be a minnow in its field. The portable oxygen concentrator market is forecast to grow at around 14 per cent annually over the next four years, reaching $2.76billion by 2026. That gives Belluscura plenty of scope to expand. And the app should drive growth too, with hospitals already interested in how it might help their patients.Midas verdict: Chronic asthma and acute bronchitis are life-altering conditions and cases are growing as people live longer and move to cities where pollution is high. Belluscura can help to make sufferers’ lives easier. Demand for its kit is increasing and the pace should pick up materially next year and beyond. At 56p, the shares are a buy. Traded on: AIM Ticker: BELL Contact: belluscura.com or MHP on 020 3128 8100 Nose out profits from beating bugsOndine is another pioneering medical devices firm, whose technology could save thousands of lives. Every year, more than half a million people in the UK develop hospital acquired infections, such as MRSA. They stay in hospital for longer, have to be operated on more than once and in the worst cases, do not survive. The numbers are even greater in America, where approaching two million patients a year are infected, with almost 100,000 dying as a result. Hospitals have been trying for years to combat the problem, which has become worse as resistance to antibiotics has become far more widespread. Ondine Biomedica has developed a way to knock these infections on the head, using a process known as photo-disinfection that is simple, well-priced and extremely effective. Ondine shares are just 25p but should increase materially in value as awareness of its technology increases and regulatory hurdles are overcome. Lifesaver: Steriwave can slash fatality rates from hospital superbugsThe company is based in Vancouver, Canada, but the idea behind photo-disinfection was conceived by a UK professor of microbiology, Michael Wilson, working at University College London in the 1990s. Wilson was looking at gum disease but Ondine has since developed the technology with a focus on MRSA and similar infections. One of the big mysteries around these diseases is why they are so prevalent in hospitals, particularly among patients who have undergone major surgery. Doctors and nurses wash their hands and wear masks, and operating theatres are kept clean, yet patients fall ill. Research indicates that the humble nose could play a key role. Dark, warm, moist and relatively undisturbed, the nose is a veritable breeding ground for bugs. Healthy people can handle them but vulnerable patients are less robust and when they breathe in bad bugs, they succumb. Ondine has a solution – a liquid-soaked swab that is brushed around the tip of the nostrils. This is followed by a slim device being inserted into the nose for just two minutes. It is tiny enough to cause minimal discomfort but powerful enough to kill viruses, bacteria and fungi with one blow. Vancouver General Hospital has been using Ondine’s treatment, known as Steriwave, for ten years on patients undergoing major surgery. And recent research showed that infection rates halved among those who used it, while mortality rates were slashed by almost 60 per cent. Steriwave even works on Covid-19, taking rates down to virtually nil at a large food processing plant in Canada last year. It is also in use at Guy’s Hospital in London and interest is growing rapidly among NHS Trusts. But Ondine chief executive Carolyn Cross believes that the company’s greatest opportunity for growth lies in the US, the world’s biggest healthcare market. Cross is applying to the US health watchdog, the FDA, for regulatory approval but she is already working closely with America’s largest hospital group, HCA Healthcare. HCA is helping Ondine with the clinical trials needed to push Steriwave over the regulatory finish line and is keen to use it on every patient undergoing major surgery across its 189 hospitals.Midas verdict: In October 2011, Carolyn Cross miraculously survived a small plane crash – and spent two weeks in Vancouver General Hospital, an early champion of Ondine’s technology. The experience turbocharged Cross’s ambition to make Steriwave disinfection an integral part of medical care. The US approval process has taken a while but it is now beginning to motor. At 25p, the shares could deliver substantial gains. Traded on: AIM Ticker: OBI Contact: ondinebio.com or 001 604 669 0555 Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.