Introducing AETHERUS: offering rapid relief to those suffering from breathlessness


July 15, 2022

AETHERUS, an NLC venture, sets out to improve the quality of life of patients suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). 

COPD is a progressive and irreversible lung disease, afflicting approximately 384 million individuals worldwide (~5% of the population). The most debilitating symptom of COPD is breathlessness, which impairs the patients’ ability to perform daily activities and partake in social life.  

In your lifetime, you have probably felt out of breath during exercise, like going up a flight of stairs. You recover quickly by inhaling deeply and at an elevated rate and continue on your way, not giving it a second thought.

Now imagine going up the same flight of stairs, but your lungs don’t allow for those deep, recovering breaths this time: you can’t exhale and make way for fresh air. Breathing becomes harder, more rapid and shallow.  You inhale your rescue medicine, but its effects take too to start working, and you become dizzy and sweaty while gasping for air. You panic as you feel that you’re about to suffocate, making your breathlessness even harder to overcome. 

This is the reality of a COPD patient. It is only natural that the fear of experiencing breathlessness again sticks and prevents you from moving in any way that may cause the same reaction – would you still go up those stairs if you knew how your body might react? 

Breathlessness, also called dyspnoea or shortness of breath, is the reality for 82% of people diagnosed with COPD up to dozens of times per day and often upon exertions as basic as taking a shower. 

Staying active plays an important role in containing the progression of COPD and maintaining the patient’s quality of life. Dyspnoea, or the fear thereof, often results in the patient avoiding such activities and resorting to a more sedentary or isolated way of living. This further deteriorates the physical condition, causing more frequent and severe instances of dyspnoea. This vicious cycle is called the Dyspnoea Spiral. 

It accelerates COPD progression, deteriorates the patient’s quality of life and increases the informal- and health-care burden. AETHERUS has made it its mission to help COPD patients break the Dyspnoea Spiral. With a patented, portable, and non-pharmaceutical solution, AETHERUS will soon launch a pNIV (portable non-invasive ventilator) for rapid relief of breathlessness. It provides the COPD patient with the comfort and confidence that dyspnoea will subside should it occur. The pNIV provides a handheld tool to overcome dyspnea induced or worsened by exercise or anxiety at arm’s length, whenever, wherever you are.

Current treatments mainly focus on managing the longer-term effects of COPD yet do not alleviate the patient’s immediate and urgent burden of breathlessness.  Addressing this unmet need is why Ton-Tijn Hulleman, venture CEO, has decided to join AETHERUS. 

Ton-Tijn Hulleman, CEO of AETHERUS: “We want to break the Dyspnoea Cycle that so many COPD patients are stuck in. By offering a portable,  easy-to-use, non-pharmaceutical device to get quick relief from dyspnoea when it occurs, we aim to instantly improve patients’ wellbeing when it is most needed and boost their confidence and strength to keep doing the things they love to do. Our device fills a void in (self-)management of the disease as an adjective and support to the patients’ current medication and therapy, making the treatment more complete and more effective”

Having previous experience with the process of bringing medical devices to the market, Ton-Tijn knows first-hand what it means to make a life-changing difference in a patient’s life. He believes that by investing in this invention, we can bring a vital product that is currently missing to all COPD patients. 

Three randomised trials have resulted in significant clinical evidence and patient-reported benefits of the device, including a steep reduction in dyspnoea recovery time and increased confidence. The results show that using the device leads to less fear and more physical activity in COPD patients. Users endorse the device and recommend its use to other COPD patients. The device is recommended for use as an adjunct to pulmonary rehabilitation. 

Currently, AETHERUS is preparing for this invention’s manufacturing and market launch. We are getting close to bringing rapid relief of dyspnoea into the patient’s hands.


About NLC
NLC is the leading European healthtech venture builder. NLC identifies top-notch early-stage healthcare inventions and brings them to market, acting as the connecting link between technology innovation and entrepreneurship in medtech, biotech and digital health. To optimize patient care and enhance its positive and sustainable impact, NLC collaborates with corporates such as Philips and healthcare and academic research institutions such as Oxford University and Mayo Clinic.

NLC is a certified B Corp and supports UN Sustainable Development Goals 3, 9, 17. With its growing team of more than 80 professionals and over 110 portfolio ventures built across 11 European countries, NLC is currently expanding its impact-driven operations to the US and the Gulf region.




Ton-Tijn Hulleman · Venture CEO


NLC Health Ventures Footer