SIME Dx has developed a simple bedside test that could improve the lives of millions of premature babies suffering from underdeveloped lungs. The digital diagnostics company has revealed that its laser-based test can accurately predict which babies are likely to develop respiratory disease syndrome (RDS), the leading cause of death in premature babies. Using a lung maturity test (LMT), it tests a small amount of gastric fluid, a substance routinely taken from babies at birth while clearing the airways. The fluid is then placed into SIME’s device, where an infrared light beam passes through the sample to produce a unique digital signature. An algorithm then analyses this signature to identify biological markers that point to a high risk of RDS. 


Currently, RDS is routinely treated by giving babies surfactant, a liquid that makes the lungs more stable. But this treatment can be harmful as it involves inserting a tube into the lungs, so doctors usually wait for symptoms to develop before taking treatment decisions. SIME’s test, however, can tell doctors which patients need the treatment and which don’t, long before a baby is sick. This dramatically reduces the need for unnecessary procedures and ensures that the babies who need help receive it very early. This helps to prevent RDS and reduce associated hospital costs.


Roughly 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year.


The company has raised £75,000 so far, including Seed funding from Oxford Technology Managers. In 2016, SIME Dx took part in Microsoft’s Accelerator program.