Follow the Money: Alzheimer’s Meds, Single Cell Multi-Omics Technology

September 11, 2020

September 14, 2020 NIH contracts to explore radiation countermeasures, Alzheimer’s medication, and convalescent plasma, Mission Bio gets $70M for single cell multi-omics technology, and more.


$300M: Series D for New Materials

Science and material innovation company Zymergen (Emeryville, Calif.) has announced $300M in new investment to accelerate its delivery of revolutionary, high performance materials. The investment includes initial Series D funding led by Baillie Gifford, joined by Baron Capital Group and one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, as well as additional growth financing from Perceptive Advisors. A number of current investors are also returning, and Zymergen expects to raise additional capital in Q4 as part of a Series D round. Zymergen develops and launches better performing products more sustainably and for a fraction of the cost and time that it typically takes using incumbent techniques. A unique combination of biology, chemistry, machine learning and lab automation underpins Zymergen’s powerful proprietary platform, driving the company’s ability to discover, design and commercialize never-before-seen materials.


$270M: Series C for Multiomics Blood Testing for Cancer  

Freenome (South San Francisco, Calif.) announced an oversubscribed $270M Series C financing to accelerate the PREEMPT CRC clinical trial for Freenome’s blood test for colorectal cancer screening and precancerous lesion detection, advance a pipeline of blood tests for both the early detection and early intervention of additional cancers, and continue building the company’s proprietary multiomics platform. PREEMPT CRC is an FDA registrational study launched in May 2020 to support approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first front-line blood test to help the 45 million people who are currently not up-to-date on colorectal cancer screening guidelines in the U.S. The Series C financing was led by new investor Bain Capital Life Sciences and existing investor Perceptive Advisors. They were joined by a group of other new investors, including Fidelity Management & Research Company, LLC, Janus Henderson Investors, Farallon Capital Management, Rock Springs Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, EcoR1 Capital, LLC, Catalio Capital Management, and the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.


$100M: Radiation Countermeasures

SRI International (Menlo Park, Calif.) has been awarded a seven-year contract of up to $100 million from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to support the research and development of radiation/nuclear medical countermeasures (MCMs). Under the contract, SRI Biosciences, a division of SRI International, will provide facilities, expertise, and capabilities to advance the development of MCMs for the mitigation or treatment of acute radiation syndromes as well as the treatment of delayed effects from acute radiation exposure (ARS/DEARE) and internal radionuclide contamination. SRI researchers will also support NIAID’s ongoing biodosimetry efforts.


$74M: Five-Year NIH Grant To Test Alzheimer’s Meds

Alzheon (Framingham, Mass.) has announced today that the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) has awarded the company a grant expected to total $47 million over 5 years to support a Phase 3 clinical study with ALZ-801, an oral agent that blocks the formation of neurotoxic soluble amyloid oligomers. The study will enroll Early AD patients, who have two copies of the apolipoprotein e4 allele (APOE4/4). AD patients with this genetic profile have been shown to have a higher risk of rapid disease progression and to be responsive to agents targeting pathogenic amyloid oligomers.


$70M: Series C for Single Cell Multi-Omics Technology  

Mission Bio (South San Francisco, Calif.) announced $70 million in its Series C financing led by Novo Growth, the growth equity arm of Novo Holdings. Soleus Capital also joins the round, along with earlier investors Mayfield, Cota, and Agilent, bringing the company’s total funding to more than $120 million. The funds will be used to scale its single-cell multi-omics technology, the Tapestri Platform, to expand the company’s reach in more effective clinical trials for novel cancer treatments, as well as characterization for cell and gene therapy.


$50M: Decentralized Research

THREAD (Durhan, NC) received additional capital commitment of up to $50 million from strategic health care investors, Water Street Healthcare Partners and JLL Partners.  The company’s latest capital infusion builds on a year of significant growth and investments in its platform and services to advance decentralized research approaches for large-scale, Phase Ib - IV global clinical trials. To date, THREAD has supported more than 100 decentralized studies.  The company will continue to invest in expanding and enhancing its innovative platform and supporting services.


$40M: Decentralized Clinical Trials

Science 37 (Los Angeles) has closed an oversubscribed $40 million funding round. Existing investors Lux Capital, Redmile Group, and PPD, Inc. led the round, and are joined by existing investors Novartis, Amgen, Sanofi Ventures, GV, and Glynn Capital. Notable new investors include LifeSci Ventures and Mubadala Ventures. Science 37 will use the new capital to support its rapid growth, expand its technology platform, and accelerate its global expansion efforts—further strengthening its ability to help sponsors execute decentralized trials and enable patients to participate in trials from anywhere, without the burden of traveling to a traditional clinical site.


$34M: NIH Grant for Nationwide Study of Convalescent Plasma  

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, Tenn.) has been awarded a one-year, $34-million grant by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, to conduct a nationwide study of "convalescent plasma" as a treatment for COVID-19. The randomized, controlled trial will test whether infusions of plasma, the liquid part of blood collected from COVID-19 survivors, can help other hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The study will recruit 1,000 participants in approximately 51 sites across the country. The goal is to complete enrollment by October 31, and report results by November.


$25.5M: Series B for Healthcare Interoperability  

Bridge Connector (Nashville, Tenn.), an interoperability company changing the way health care communicates, today announced it has raised $25.5 million in Series B financing. The latest round, led by Axioma Ventures, was joined by all existing investors, including veteran investor Jeff Vinick, and brings Bridge Connector’s total funding to over $45 million. After achieving over 1000% year-over-year growth in 2019, the investment will further support the company’s increasing market share in health care interoperability and growth of Destinations, a new integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) that connects health data systems using use-case-based interoperability blueprints to speed integrations with major vendors. Bridge Connector provides a suite of vendor-agnostic integration solutions and a full-service delivery model, helping health care vendors, providers, and payers more easily share data between disparate systems, such as electronic health records (EHRs) or patient engagement solutions.


$12M: Cloud Clinical Data Platform

Castor (Hoboken, New Jersey) has announced a $12 million funding round led by Two Sigma Ventures with participation from Hambrecht Ducera Growth Ventures and existing investor INKEF Capital. Castor’s clinical data platform that simplifies the clinical trial process, from recruitment to analysis, for researchers globally. It’s used by more than 50,000 users across academia and commercial research, powering more than 4,000 studies with more than 2,000,000 enrolled patients across 90 countries. 192 medical device, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs) are using Castor’s platform. Castor made its platform freely available for all non-profit COVID-19 research starting in February.


$11.8M: Series A for Digital Sedation

Oncomfort (Brussells), the Belgian inventor of and leader in Digital Sedation—a method for relieving patients' pain and anxiety without medication—has completed a €10 million Series A funding round co-led by two prominent institutional investors: Debiopharm and Crédit Mutuel Innovation. Oncomfort plans to use this investment to develop its innovative digital therapy solutions and accelerate its international expansion in Europe and the US. Founded in 2017, Oncomfort invented Digital Sedation, a completely new method for relieving patients' pain and anxiety through treatment with clinically proven sessions of therapeutic Virtual Reality. Since the launch of the Sedakit for Digital Sedation in Benelux and France in June 2019, over 30,000 patients have been treated and have had their pain and anxiety relieved before, during, and after interventions in many clinical fields such as anesthesia, oncology, interventional radiology and cardiology, as well as pediatrics.


$9.94M: Five Year NIH Grant for Rare Genetic Diseases

Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Tex.) has received a five-year, $9.94 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for the new Center for Precision Medicine Models to facilitate the study of rare genetic diseases. The center will use precision animal models of a patient’s or group of patients’ specific genetic variation and study why the change causes disease and how the disease can be treated. The center will take nominations for genetic variants to model from patients, patient groups, clinicians, researchers, and NIH-funded consortiums like the Undiagnosed Diseases Network and the Centers for Mendelian Genomics. An accepted disease-causing genetic variant must previously be identified in order to be considered for modeling. After a case is submitted, the center’s clinical and bioinformatics teams will independently assess the genetic variant for likelihood of causing disease. Next, the modeling team will decide if a precision model organism can be produced for that particular genetic change and whether appropriate resources are available within the center to study the disease. A final decision about whether to select the case will be made based on likely clinical benefit to the patient.


$3M: Series of Grants from Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine

The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) is issuing the first of three grant rounds, totaling $3 million, as part of the organization’s DxQI Seed Grant Program. The initial awards are up to $50,000 for 17 organizations testing interventions to improve the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of diagnoses. The 17 grantees awarded in this round are: Advocate Aurora Health; Atrium Health; The Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Brigham Health/Brigham and Women’s Hospital; The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Kaiser Permanente East Bay; Maine Medical Center; McMaster University; MedStar Health; Northwell Health; Northwestern Memorial HealthCare; Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children; The University of Michigan and Hurley Medical Center; The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio & University Health System; The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and The Veterans Education and Research Association of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.


$1.5M: Regulatory Information Management Solutions

​Rimsys (Pittsburgh, Penn.) closed a $1.5 million investment round, led by ​Allos Ventures​. The financing round will support Rimsys’ penetration of the MedTech Regulatory Information Management market through planned expansions of its product offering, sales, and marketing execution. Rimsys’ solution seamlessly integrates with MedTech manufacturers’ existing quality management systems, product lifecycle management systems, and sales and distribution software systems. Rimsys’ robust digital platform, with its intuitive user interface and global intelligence, enables its customers to meet market entrance requirements and grow internationally. ​John McIlwraith​, managing director at Allos Ventures will join Rimsys’ board of directors.


$1.3M: AI for Drug Repurposing for COVID-19

Relation Therapeutics (London), a drug development company driven by data science and machine learning (ML), has announced Project RE, which will apply Relation Therapeutics’ and its partners’ technology to the identification of repurposed drug combinations as potential therapeutic candidates for COVID-19. Funding for Project RE is provided by a $1.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Relation Therapeutics. Project RE will focus on finding therapies to tackle viral entry and replication and is co-led between Mila (Quebec AI Institute) and Relation Therapeutics, with the overall scientific direction by Mila founder Professor Yoshua Bengio. The project will also create a platform to develop therapies that appropriately modulate the immune response through distinct stages of infection with oversight from Relation’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Roblin.


$356,000: AI for Microbiome-Disease Link  

BioLizard (Ghent, Belgium) received a €300,000 research grant from Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) to leverage its world-leading expertise in bioinformatics, AI and machine learning, to establish the causal link between the human microbiome and disease. Collecting data from the broadest set of microbes, patient background and interactions, BioLizard is building a framework using state-of-the-art bioinformatics and AI tools to evaluate causal links in the human microbiome, purely from data. This will allow evaluation of whether microbe A causes disease B or if they’re only distantly related, thereby requiring a refining of focus.


$100,000: COVID-19 Fast Grant for Enzymes Critical to SARS-CoV-2 Replication

Dr. Christopher Basler, professor and director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, has received a $100,000 COVID-19 Fast Grant to study enzymes that are critical for the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Basler is exploring several small molecule inhibitors that would block formation of membranes needed for SARS-CoV-2 infection. These include enzymes such as VPS34, long chain fatty acyl-coA synthetase and fatty acid synthase. Drugs that affect cell membranes and lipids are being pursued as treatments for other medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes and obesity. Early data from the Basler lab suggest such drugs might be effective to slow SARS-CoV-2.