National Science Foundation Awards Aluna Grant to Test Mobile Asthma Management Platform
- Aluna’s total grant value from the NSF exceeds $1.1 million
- Product development and testing underway in partnership with UCSF
(San Francisco, CA - September 17, 2019) Aluna, the San Francisco Bay Area-based asthma management company, today announced that the National Science Foundation has awarded the company a new grant to continue testing its eponymous asthma management platform and companion smartphone app. This latest grant brings Aluna’s total award from the NSF to more than $1.1 million, and these funds are being used to test and refine the Aluna device and platform in anticipation of FDA approval and consumer product launch. The grant-sponsored project is being conducted in partnership with Dr. Ngoc Ly at the University of California, San Francisco, and is formally entitled “Phase II: User-Friendly Spirometer and Mobile App for Self-Management and Home Monitoring of Asthma Patients.” The Aluna platform was designed from the ground up by a team of asthmatics and healthcare providers to help patients, particularly pediatric patients, better manage their asthma by recording and tracking their lung function scores.
“This latest grant from the National Science Foundation further demonstrates Aluna’s promise,” said Aluna co-founder and CEO Charvi Shetty. “We are honored to have been selected for this award. This is our third National Science Foundation grant, clearly demonstrating the confidence that the NSF has in Aluna and our asthma management platform. We are excited about what the future holds and grateful to the NSF for the opportunity to realize our vision to help asthmatics everywhere achieve a better quality of life through more sophisticated and informed management of their conditions.”
Aluna is an innovative, mobile respiratory management platform that monitors lung function scores, effectively duplicating the spirometry exams typically performed in a doctor’s office. It consists of a small spirometer (about the size of a deck of cards) that pairs, via Bluetooth, with a companion iPhone app. To use, patients exhale forcefully into the device, just as they would for a physician’s spirometry exam. Their progress and score are displayed in the paired app, which is carefully designed to be fun and engaging, much like a game. Exhaling into the device causes a rocketship in the app to “blast off,” with more forceful exhalations achieving higher altitudes and scores. The rocketship can be customized with different colors, attachments, and more.
To view Aluna in action, please watch this brief demo video
When used regularly, Aluna provides a body of data that can help to better manage this chronic disease. It records and can output data in real-time, in PDF format, for both patient and doctor review, providing a more holistic view of the patient’s lung function than is possible with occasional visits to doctors’ offices. This has several key benefits. Using Aluna teaches children to develop autonomy over their asthma action plans by keeping them, along with their parents and physicians, informed about their lung function. This allows parents to more closely monitor their children’s asthma and for physicians to adjust asthma action plans as needed with a greater understanding of potential asthma triggers. Importantly, better management of asthma should result in fewer asthma attacks and flare-ups, and therefore less need for emergency rescue medication, the kind of which is administered in the event of an asthma attack. These rescue medications are linked to a variety of side effects and tolerances can be developed over time, potentially resulting in less effective asthma relief.
There is a tremendous need for Aluna and for better asthma management. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 26 million Americans have asthma, with the rate increasing over the past four decades. 47.5 percent of children age 18 and younger who had asthma reported having one or more asthma attacks in the past year. The unpredictability of asthma attacks can make it difficult for many children to pursue activities such as sports, music, and much more. CDC research estimates that asthma directly costs the United States economy more than $80 billion each year. This number does not factor in indirect costs, which include lost time and productivity, including lost school days due to asthma. Better asthma management will result in improved quality of life for asthmatics while also relieving stress on the national economy.
Aluna is not yet available for sale and is currently recruiting patients for an ongoing study at the University of California, San Francisco. To learn more and sign up to participate, please visit alunabeta.io.
This award from the National Science Foundation is a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant. The STTR program focuses on transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial potential and/or societal benefit. Unlike fundamental research, the NSF STTR program supports startups and small businesses in the creation of innovative, disruptive technologies, getting discoveries out of the lab and into the market. The NSF STTR Program funds research and development. The program is designed to provide equity-free funding and entrepreneurial support at the earliest stages of company and technology development. More details on the STTR program can be found on the NSF’s website.
Aluna was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area by three asthmatics who met at the University of California - Berkeley. This shared experience amongst the founders drives Aluna’s mission to bring clarity and peace of mind to children, parents, caregivers, and medical professionals who live with asthma and other chronic diseases. The Aluna platform was developed in close consultation with physicians at some of the US’s leading academic medical centers to ensure that it is safe, effective, and fits into existing asthma treatment plans. For more information, please visit aluna.io.