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Exclusive: Aluna inhales $15M Series B for asthma monitoring

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Jan 31, 2023
Illustration of money stuffed into an inhaler.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Respiratory health management company Aluna has inhaled $15.3 million in Series B capital, CEO Charvi Shetty tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Although dozens of apps and devices exist to help people with lung conditions manage their illness, few offer what Aluna aims to: a fully integrated, combined service that lets people see how they respond to medications in real time.

  • "What we do is essentially what you'd do in a clinic," Shetty says.

Deal details: Insider Matrix Partners led the round, bringing Aluna's total funding to $27 million.

  • Other participants included Rho Ignition and individual backer Warner Carr, an Irvine, Calif.-based allergist.
  • Shetty says the company plans to use the funds for product innovation, including expanding from asthma into COPD and cystic fibrosis.
  • Aluna will likely raise a Series C in 2024.

How it works: San Francisco, Calif.-based Aluna partners with providers who offer its FDA-cleared spirometer device and app to their patients. Providers pay a $65 monthly fee to the company, which handles insurance verification so they can be reimbursed through remote patient monitoring.

  • Roughly 80% of Aluna's customers are adults with mild to moderate persistent asthma. The rest are children and teens.
  • Customers breathe into the Aluna device and use a corresponding app to see their lung function, visualized as a rocket taking off based on the strength of their breath.
  • Users then measure their response to medications and input data about potential triggers such as exercise, environment and location — and the data is shared with providers.
  • The children's version of the app has a game component that lets kids customize their rocket, unlock achievements and encounter various moons and characters.

State of play: Several remote patient monitoring companies focused on respiratory health have attracted investor and acquisition interest in recent years, such as:

  • Propeller Health, developer of a digital inhaler designed to track medication adherence, in 2019 was acquired by ResMed (NYSE: RMD) for $242.9 million.
  • NuvoAir, developer of a respiratory care platform, last January raised $25 million in Series A funding led by AlbionVC and Hikma Ventures.
  • Respiratory Motion, a respiratory monitoring technology developer, in 2022 was was acquired by Senzime for $44 million.

The backstory: Shetty learned she herself had asthma while testing an early version of Aluna's technology as a graduate student at UC Berkeley, where she and co-founder Inderjit Jutla began Aluna as a class project.

By the numbers: Aluna has 4,000 active users across the U.S., per Shetty.

Of note: The company's biggest challenge will be continuing to onboard patients and expand into other conditions, says Aluna investor and Matrix general partner Antonio Rodriguez, who previously invested in non-health care companies including Oculus VR and MakerBot.

  • "It's a lot easier to move fast and break things when you’re not worried about federal audits or doctors encountering difficulties getting patient data," he says.

🌚 One fun thing: The name Aluna was inspired by the Latin root word luna or "moon."

  • "Historically the moon is what allowed people to venture out in the darkness," Shetty says. "We wanted to bring clarity to parts of people’s health they hadn’t seen before."
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