Menlo-Park, CA based Grail, the liquid biopsy company and Illumina spin off, to go public on the Hong Kong Exchange and seeking $500M in additional capital
Grail, a liquid biopsy company, was founded by Illumina, the largest genetic sequencing instrumentation company in the world. Subsequently, Grail was spun off and raised $1.0B of capital from a variety of investors including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. In May of 2017 Grail merged with the much smaller Chinese company, Cirina, which is in similar business.
Grail focuses on early detection of cancer. The company has already started two clinical trials. One is focused on breast cancer. The biggest challenge for liquid biopsies is the degree of false positives. Patients who would be put through unnecessary biopsies and other procedures may not be happy. That said, the field holds enormous promise for prevention which is the holy grail for bending the cost curve in healthcare.
Helix of San Carlos, CA raises $200M
This is another Illumina affiliated entity. Helix is a platform on which a variety of genetically centered apps can be built. Currently the company has 35 products from 20 partners. Mayo Clinic is expected to launch a new app on Helix’s platform in the coming months. DFG Growth, Illumina, KP, Mayo Clinic, Warburg Pincus and others participated in the raise.
Collective Health of San Mateo, CA announces $110M funding with participation from Founders Fund and GV
The company has raised over $220M to date. Collective matches employees with the benefit programs where they can pick and choose what they want covered for their employees. The Company covers 120,000 members up from 30,000 in 2015.
Canadian insurer, Sun Life Financial and Mubadala of Abu Dhabi are new investors.
Health benefit company, Bind, based in Minneapolis, MN, raises $60M
The best way to describe the company is an on-demand health insurance. One can add or subtract from their coverage on the go. The company works with employers as well as brokers and consultants. The concept is novel, fresh and personalized. We will have to wait and see it in action.
Unity Biotechnology, life extension company based in San Francisco, CA raises $55M in Series C bringing total funds to $200M
The company designs therapeutics that prevent, halt, or reverse numerous diseases of aging. This is achieved through clearing senescent cells, and design specific medications. These medicines target the production of the cellular protein that lead to deterioration associated with age. No human trials yet. First drug will address musculoskeletal. We know many others including Google who are working hard at extending lifespan. The amount of money that is backing these projects are getting medical ethicists pretty worried.
Atomwise of San Francisco raises $45M
Monsanto Growth Ventures led the round which included Data Collective and others. Atomwise aims to be the leading AI partner to pharma, biotech and agrochemical companies. The company’s earliest work involved commercializing deep neural networks for drug discovery. Atomwise now looks after 50 molecular discovery programs. These programs range from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases and endemic parasites. Very exciting work to join AI with chemistry.
Millennial health product market place, Hims, based in San Francisco, CA raises $40M
Hims uses a combination of pill, gummies and shampoo to address hair loss, ED and bad skin. The packaging of the products coupled with classy messaging looks like it can make this company to be a great success.
CareDx of Brisbane, CA raises $35M
CareDx, Inc. focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of diagnostic surveillance solutions for transplant patients. The company’s solutions essentially allow doctors to match donors with patients; based on DNA profiling. The science materially decreases complications for transplant recipients.
Whoop of Boston, MA raises $25M
Whoop is often called the Tesla of health tracking. MIT labs, NBA commissioner and a few other prominent investors underwrote the round. Thus far the company has raised $47M.
Whoop wearables are used by players in Major League Baseball and NFL. The biggest differentiator for Whoop is its massive data bank. The wearable has five sensors that collect data 100 times per second and it shows the athlete the level of strain that they are able to endure.
Sleep company Eight based in New York, NY raises $14M
The company, formerly called Luna had raised $33M prior to this round. Khosla led this round.
Eight has built a smart mattress which manages the temperature of the bed and optimizes it on the basis of sleep and communication with other smart home devices. Sleep tracking and smart alarm are some of the embedded features.
Centene invests in tech-focused PBM, RxAdvance, based in Southborough, MA
This deal was announced a few days after another insurer, Cigna announced its acquisition of Express Scripts. Insurers owning PBMs aims to serve the patients better through data sharing, etc.. Many insurers have either bought or built their own. Concerns have been expressed about CVS, which has its own PBM, overcharging Medicaid patients.
Centene is the largest Medicaid-focused insurer.
Memory health platform NeuroTrack based in Richmond, VA lands $13.7M in funding in Series B
The round was led by Sozo Ventures. The platform has two parts. One which helps users prevent memory loss and an assessment that gives users a baseline memory reading. Users can track exercise, diet, sleep, stress alongside their cognitive training efforts. The system is designed to follow the studies done by Finnish Geriatric Intervention which has shown encouraging results for prevention of cognitive decline.
The way memory is measured in the app is fascinating to us. The memory assessment which takes about five minutes and can be done at home, lets user look at their smart phone screen and the program will track eye movements and identify potential abnormalities. We look forward to seeing how quickly this company can get traction.
twoXAR, based in Palo Alto, CA and an AI driven drug discovery company raises $10M
The company leverages internally built knowledge base to identify new drug candidates coupled with public library of specific diseases. Type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are the current areas of focus.
Nomad of New York, NY raises $12M
The company has a platform for job seekers and employers in the healthcare space. Polaris led the round. Nomad currently focuses on helping doctors and nurses to find short term jobs. The plan is to become a market place for a variety of healthcare jobs where both seekers and employers can find their match.
There are a number of websites that specialize in healthcare. The difference here is sharp focus on the life cycle of the job seekers.