Sonohaler: improving treatment of respiratory diseases

Sonohaler is a digital health company headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, focused on improving treatment of respiratory diseases with innovative, affordable solutions that are simple to use. In 2022 they were awarded €814K for their project, SMART-HALE, from Eurostars. We spoke with Ash Pradhan, Sonohaler CEO, about their mission, SMART-HALE, and the collaboration with Catalyze.

Developing a smart solution for treatment of acute respiratory infections

Healthcare systems and providers urgently require effective means to control respiratory infectious diseases. Acute respiratory tract infections are among the top three causes of death and disability among both children and adults (~4M deaths/y ref: WHO). In order to treat respiratory infections, healthcare professionals are increasingly shifting away from systemic medication towards inhaled drug delivery that directly targets the site of infection. However, correct inhalation technique is a major barrier for drug delivery via this route, as is the delivery of high doses to the lungs that is required to get the desired therapeutic effect. Sonohaler will offer an affordable and sustainable smart alternative to correctly deliver and measure short-course medication.

Combining sound-based machine learning for accurate drug intake

Sonohaler has spent 5 years developing and validating their proprietary technology – an acoustic device integrated into the inhaler shell. In SMART-HALE, they aim to develop Aeolus, which will build on Sono One, a patient management platform currently under development that uses an add-on sound ring to existing Asthma / Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) inhalers to capture inhalation data.

In their Eurostars project, SMART-HALE, the device will undergo breakthrough innovations in hardware and software, for applications in delivery of short-term medication courses against acute respiratory diseases. Aeolus will be the first disposable dry powder inhaler with smart features through sound to directly deliver and monitor the correct intake of short-term courses of medication.

Ash introduces Sonohaler and their mission:

“Sonohaler’s goal is to make digital respiratory care accessible to all sections of society, across emerging and developed countries. Our proprietary AcuFlo technology – based on acoustics and AI – provides a robust platform to build digital inhaler solutions encompassing a range of next-gen features such as inhalation performance analysis, symptom tracking, and telemedicine etc.

“By extending these capabilities to single-use, short term medical treatment with SMART-HALE, particularly the know-how to evaluate inhalation performance, we can ensure the efficacy of treatment for a range of conditions like cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis etc. Part of this new inhaler solution is to also enable delivery of high doses via changes in the inhaler design, for improved convenience and efficacy for the patients.”

Ash continues, “Our breakthrough technology is patient centric. It empowers patients to take control of their treatment on a simple, user-friendly platform. Also, we’ve broken the cost barriers to digital inhaler solutions, with an economical and sustainable solution, giving access to those who need it most.”

Building on years of research and development, and combining expertise

Joining Sonohaler in SMART-HALE are Achilles Design (Belgium) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark). The University of Copenhagen brings expertise in drug formulation and particle engineering for the testing of drug deposition with the novel inhaler, while Achilles has over 10 years’ experience in iterative design of medical devices and will focus on designing a novel inhaler with sustainable choices across materials selection, manufacturing and recyclability. Sonohaler deploys its unique knowledge in the field of machine learning and data analytics to evaluate the sound of the patients’ inhalation before correlating that with inhalation performance.

Altogether they have the required technological skills, knowledge, and expertise to develop the first smart sound-enhanced inhaler. Furthermore, the consortium also connects an expansive combined network across Europe that can be exploited for later commercialization.

Ash explains, “Partners were identified and evaluated by Catalyze prior to an interview discussion with Sonohaler to assess synergies. Key criteria were previously agreed between Sonohaler and Catalyze. The key qualification point was a complementary skill set to support Sonohaler’s core competencies. Sonohaler plans to market the Aeolus product in partnership with pharma companies and national and international health organisations.”

Preparing the winning application with Catalyze’s support

Eurostars is a highly competitive programme. Aside from having an excellent project idea to begin with, shaping your project proposal, framing it in the correct light, and finding complimentary expertise are all essential to a successful application. The Catalyze team provided support throughout the preparation and writing of the SMART-HALE project proposal to Eurostars.

Ash comments, “Catalyze’s experience in developing successful projects was crucial to shaping the submission strategy and planning, including identifying partners. Their comprehensive management of the submission process meant that Sonohaler and partners could focus on their own contributions and not have to worry about the wider process.”


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