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Leveraging an academic-industry partnership to develop a cancer-specific mobile meditation app

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41CA261260-01
Agency Tracking Number: R41CA261260
Amount: $397,657.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 102
Solicitation Number: PA20-261
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-03-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-02-28
Small Business Information
140 2ND ST 3FL
San Francisco, CA 94105-3727
United States
DUNS: 078627292
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (602) 827-2456
Business Contact
Phone: (602) 827-2456
Research Institution
660 S MILL AVE, STE 312
TEMPE, AZ 85281-6011
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

1 Project Summary/Abstract2 Approximately 15.5 million US cancer patients/survivors experience a host of residual symptoms (e.g.,3 fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain, sleep disturbance) and reduced quality of life that are often not resolved with4 even the best-available current standard of care therapies. Residual symptom burden impairs cancer survivor5 functioning and leads to increased rates of disability and healthcare utilization, costing $125 billion every year.6 Cancer patients/survivors want and need complementary strategies to accompany standard therapies.7 Research has demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness-based therapies, such as meditation, for8 alleviating cancer-related symptoms (e.g., fatigue, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance).Meditation-based9 programs are typically conducted in-person, in clinic settings; however, these programs are expensive and
10 difficult to sustain, and cancer patients report barriers to participating (e.g., travel demands, fatigue, pain, and
11 scheduling difficulties). Smartphone-based meditation is a feasible and novel method for delivering meditation
12 to cancer patients/survivors. Mobile apps and online meditation programs have demonstrated short-term benefits
13 for cancer patients/survivors; however, the currently available commercial meditation apps are limited in their
14 engagement, acceptability, and applicability to cancer patients/survivors’ unique experiences and have not been
15 evaluated for feasibility or efficacy. There is an unmet need for a commercially-available, evidence-based
16 meditation app specifically designed for cancer patients/survivors. Incorporating stakeholder feedback (i.e.,
17 patients and healthcare providers) in the early design phase will facilitate the development of a meditation app
18 truly targeted for the end users that can be made commercially available, thereby improving uptake and impact
19 in patient populations. Calm, a popular consumer-based meditation app with 70 million downloads and 2 million
20 subscribers, provides a platform from which to develop an accessible standalone cancer-specific meditation app.
21 This project will: 1) gather feedback about the current Calm app from an advisory committee (N=20) consisting
22 of cancer patients/survivors (n=10, 5 of each) and healthcare providers (n=10), 2) design a cancer-specific
23 meditation app prototype, and 3) beta-test the prototype in cancer patients/survivors (N=30).
24 A standalone meditation app designed for and tested by cancer patients/survivors, leveraging a popular
25 and validated meditation app platform, to be made commercially available, is innovative and could provide a
26 scalable, highly engaging symptom-management tool that addresses cancer patients/survivors’ unique needs.
27 If our key feasibility milestones are met, we will further refine the cancer-specific app and conduct a randomized
28 controlled trial to determine the app’s long-term efficacy in reducing symptom burden in cancer patients/survivors
29 (Phase 2) that can later be commercialized and marketed to cancer patients/survivors, healthcare providers, and
30 clinics. (Phase 3).Project Narrative
Currently, there are NO commercially available, evidence-based meditations apps specifically designed for
cancer patients/survivors. The proposed project will leverage an existing consumer-based mobile app, Calm, to
develop a standalone cancer-specific meditation app. We will use our formative work, the social cognitive theory,
and perspectives from a cancer experienced advisory committee to inform the development of the app prototype,
which will then be beta-tested in a second sample of cancer patients/survivors, and later tested for its long-term
efficacy in a randomized controlled trial to make commercially available to cancer populations.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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