CB Insights report by John Prendergass, Intelligence Analyst, Healthcare
John focuses on digital health, therapeutics, medical devices, & biotechnology. Previously attended medical school at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and worked in the healthcare investment group of Ben Franklin Technology Partners. John is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University.
Digital Health Trend No1 : Intelligent drug design: AI’s new role in Pharma
What is it: Intelligent drug design refers to the use of automation tools, such as artificial intelligence, to speed up drug discovery. Startups are building computational platforms to better identify compounds likely to succeed in subsequent rounds of testing.
Why is it important: The drug discovery process typically involves the identification of hundreds of compounds and their subsequent elimination in further rounds of testing. AI has the potential to help pharma companies discover drugs faster and more cheaply by narrowing the list of therapeutic targets.
Description: London-based BenevolentAI uses AI to mine biomedical information from clinical trials and academic papers. It then identifies molecules that have failed in clinical trials but may have potential in other disease states. As per its founder Ken Mulvany, the company has ~20 programs in preclinical development (such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and 3-4 phase II programs, one of which involves the use of bavisant to treat daytime sleepiness in Parkinson’s disease.
Total Funding: $140.6M ($1B valuation)
Select Investors: Woodford Investment Management, Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Lansowne Partners
Description: San Francisco-based Atomwise is the developer of AtomNet, a deep learning platform for novel small molecule discovery. The company has launched 27 drug discovery projects with institutions such as Merck and Abbvie. As per their CEO Alexander Levy, the company is earning revenue. The company recently launched a program whereby up to 100 labs will receive 72 potential medicines generated by their AI molecular screening program.
Total Funding: $6.12M
Select Investors: Khosla Ventures, Data Collective, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, AME cloud ventures, Y Combinator
Description: Palo Alto-based twoXAR is an AI-driven biopharmaceutical company. They employ a computational platform that screens thousands of drug candidates to identify unanticipated associations between drugs and diseases. To-date, they have announced positive preclinical data in rheumatoid arthritis, liver cancer, and type 2 diabetes. The company has partnerships with Stanford Medicine, Mount Sinai, and Santen Pharmaceutical, among others.
Total Funding: $3.4M
Select Investors: Andreessen Horowitz, CLI Ventures, StartX
Digital Health Trend No2 : Skin-as-a-platform: Wearable everything
What is it: The use of wearable patches and other devices that sit on the skin to enable continuous biometric monitoring and drug delivery.
Why is it important: Current methods of monitoring, whether blood pressure, glucose, or heart rate, are irregular and prone to human error. And current methods of drug delivery, whether via a needle or pill, are similarly open to patient error and mismanagement. On-skin monitoring/drug delivery platforms will free up physicians’ time and give more power to the patient.
Description: Chrono Therapeutics develops a wearable patch enabling transdermal (through the skin) medication delivery. The patch is linked to a platform whereby timing and dosing can be managed as well as compliance accurately tracked. Their 1st product is a 10- week nicotine replacement program but the company is also developing solutions for Parkinson’s medications, opioid cessation, and chronic/acute pain.
Total Funding: $84.7M
Select Investors: Canaan Partners, GE Ventures, Fountain Healthcare Partners, 5AM Ventures, Endeavour Vision, Mayo Clinic Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures
Description: VitalConnect develops FDA-cleared, disposable, biometric-sensing patches for remote patient monitoring. The device can measure data such as single lead ECG, heart rate, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and posture (for fall detection). Non-FDA approved metrics currently in development include blood pressure and oxidation. The company has launched pilots with Brigham Women’s Hospital and multiple Veterans Administration hospitals.
Total Funding: $84.4M
Select Investors: MVM Life Science Partners, Baxter International, Perceptive Advisors
Description: Sano Intelligence is the developer of a small app-enabled continuous glucose monitor. The device sits on the user’s skin and uses minimally invasive microstructures to sense glucose in interstitial fluid. The company plans to launch as an over-the-counter product for people without diabetes and will seek FDA approval in the future.
Total Funding: $10.3M
Select Investors: Intel Capital, Felicis Ventures, Elevation Partners, Rock Health, True Ventures, Floodgate, FundersClub
Digital Health Trend No3 : Blockchain: Enabling global access to patient data
What is it: Blockchains are cryptographically secured, distributed ledgers, first developed as the underlying technology of bitcoin (a type of cryptocurrency). The technology has primarily been used in the financial sector but holds promise in healthcare.
Why is it important: Current models of health data management suffer from the inability of medical record systems to communicate with one another and increasingly frequent data breaches. Blockchain’s potential ranges from securing the pharma supply chain to finally enabling medical record interoperability throughout the world.
Description: Atlanta-based Patientory is building a blockchain-powered health information exchange (HIE) intended to enable EMR interoperability and enhanced cybersecurity protocols. The company launched in 2015 and plans to launch a patient app this year. PTOY is a digital currency offered by Patientory that gives users access to the platform to store and secure health information.
Total Funding: $7.22M
Select Investors: Boomtown Accelerator, multiple angel investors
Description: Gem develops blockchain applications for healthcare and supply chain management. Their “Gem Healthcare Network” will add security via permissioned blockchains in which patients control access and a shared ledger system where every new change is recorded. Gem has partnered with Philips to explore how blockchain can support a “patient centric approach to healthcare” and with the CDC to help manage population health and disaster response operations.
Total Funding: $10.4M
Select Investors: RRE Ventures, Tekton Ventures, First Round Capital, Blockchain Capital, KEC Ventures,
Birchmere Ventures, Baroda Ventures, Baroda Ventures
Description: Chronicled builds special purpose blockchain-based applications ranging from supply chain to IoT. A unique application of the platform involves the use of smart sensors to track and store temperature readings of drugs, blood, or human organs on a blockchain backend. Along with consulting group LinkLab, Chronicled launched The MediLedger Project in 2017 with the goal of developing blockchain solutions for the pharmaceutical industry.
Total Funding: $4.83M
Select Investors: Colbeck Capital Management, Mandra Capital, Pantera Capital, Plug and Play Accelerator,
Marshawn Lynch, Social Starts