© 2020 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health, Science, Environment

St. Louis startup gets FDA approval for asthma-control device

A promotional photo for Wing, used during the startup's IndieGoGo campaign in 2015.
Sparo Labs
A promotional photo for Wing, used during the startup's IndieGoGo campaign in 2015.

A St. Louis-based startup has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market a device that helps patients monitor their asthma and other lung conditions.

A marketing campaign will start in the fall for patients to buy the device  — called Wing — from the Sparo Labs website, co-founder Andrew Brimer said. Pilot programs to get the devices to local doctors and study patient reactions also are underway.

“It helped them be more confident in controlling their asthma, and being able to really understand how their lungs are doing and get a picture of that," Brimer said. "That hadn’t really been able to be done before."

Since peak flow meters were invented in the 1950s, asthmatics have blown into them to measure how well their lungs are functioning. Wing works in a similar way, but is fitted to plug into the headphone jack of a smartphone that can track the data over time through an app.

The data helps patients predict when their lung conditions may flare up, even before they notice it on their own body, Brimer said.

“Wing is able to give you that heads up — before you might feel any symptoms — that you need to act, maybe take the medication you’ve been prescribed or so forth to really stay in control and prevent an asthma attack from happening,” he said.

Pricing hasn’t been finalized, but Brimer said he doesn’t think the device will be much more expensive than a Fitbit, which typically sells from between $80 and $150.

Brimer and co-founder Abby Cohen started the company in 2012, during their last year at Washington University.  They funded their work through an Indiegogo campaign and a series of cash prizes, including $50,000 through Arch Grants. Wing is the startup's first device with FDA approval. 

Follow Durrie on Twitter: @durrieB

Our priority is you. Support coverage that’s reliable, trustworthy and more essential than ever. Donate today.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.