A specialized digital device has shown promise as a multi-purpose inhaler for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Boone, North Carolina-based company Pneuma Respiratory announced it developed the, “first, fully digital, soft mist inhaler.”

Two of the device’s key components include a soft mist ejector and electronic breath actuation. The ejector automatically activates when a patient inhales and it senses the breath. Medication droplets then get injected into the lungs without the use of propellants.

"The breath actuation and electronic ejection creates a lot of possibilities for practitioners," said Dr. Guangxi Li of Mayo Clinic, in a statement. "While we're currently focused on creating improved therapeutic treatments by delivering off-patent, proven asthma and COPD medicines, we see tremendous potential to lead the successful delivery of large molecule drugs through the lungs."

COPD has been the primary focus in the initial development stages.

Data from pre-clinical binding studies indicated the platform had the ability to deliver large, complex biologics that are pharmacologically intact, according to the announcement.

Furthermore, Pneuma said two clinical studies with COPD patients using small-molecule asthma and COPD medications validated its technology using bronchodilation as the outcome.

The company feels confident these factors, along with the built-in ability of the inhaler to deliver real-time dose verification data via a mobile app, could make it competitive in the potentially lucrative biologics market.

A research report compiled by business intelligence provider GBI Research predicts that the market for respiratory disease treatments will exceed $41.3 billion in sales by 2023. Factors that will contribute to this uptick in growth will be patent expirations of commercially successful treatments like Advair, Symbicort, Ventolin, and Spiriva enabling the launch of generics into the market along with new product launches and extended patents of drug delivery devices.