Bay Area startup creates device to predict asthma attacks in kids

Childhood asthma can be a traumatic battle for many kids, but now a Bay Area startup believes it has a way to spot attacks coming, and possibly deliver faster interventions.

Like most kids, eight-year-old Finn Seybold loves video games and this one could help head off the asthma attacks that leave him fighting for breath.

"It feels like you're not really breathing and you're wheezing," Finn said.

Finn is part of a Bay Area test group that's helping to evaluate a new device called the Aeris. It's a miniaturized spirometer, a test tool used in hospitals to gauge the lung function of asthma patients.

Company founder Charvi Setty says their version turns the process into a game. Kids travel in an air balloon, by blowing into the device, which beams a wireless signal to a smartphone.

"The only way to get into the next level, is that you have to exhale really hard for a long time. And that's where we collect the spirometer information," Shetty said.

The data can be accessed by doctors or patients and Setty believes it could provide an early warning of changes in the lungs, which can precede an asthma attack, potentially giving doctors a chance to head it off.

"Catch the problem early on before you're having symptoms," Shetty said.

University of California San Francisco asthma specialist, doctor Ngoc Ly, is a principal investigator in the study and can't comment on the device itself, but she says a system for collecting information on a daily basis could provide valuable data for research.

"To be able to look at their value on a consistent, or daily basis, then we can determine how well their asthma is controlled," Ly said.

The Aeris team believes their miniaturized spirometer is as accurate as the larger hospital versions. And if testing is successful they hope to apply to the FDA for clearance later this year, potentially providing faster care for millions of children, suffering from asthma.
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