Follow the Money: RNA Therapeutics, AI-Driven Therapy Design

August 5, 2021

August 5, 2021 | Deep Genomics nets cash for AI-designed RNA therapeutics, Strata advances personalized minimal residual disease (MRD) assays, Frontier Medicines goes after the proteome, and more.


$254M: PCORI-Funded Research into Maternal-Infant Health, Suicide Prevention 

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) today approved $254 million in funding for 28 new research studies aimed at eliminating disparities in maternal and infant health, preventing suicide among young people, and improving behavioral health, cancer care, surgical care and outcomes for people with chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Four studies approved for a total of $33 million will assess interventions to improve care during pregnancy and after childbirth to reduce the higher rates of health problems among Black women and Latinas and their infants. The largest will compare approaches to reducing the risk of low birth weight among Black infants. Five studies approved for a total of $58 million will assess interventions to reduce suicide among adolescents and young adults, which is the second leading cause of death among U.S. youth ages 15-24. Three of these will compare whether tailoring prevention strategies leads to better outcomes among autistic youth, Alaska Native youth, and sexual and gender diverse young adults, respectively.


$230M: Growth Equity Investment for Randomization and Trial Supply Management 

4G Clinical has entered into an agreement to receive a growth equity investment of over $230mm from Goldman Sachs Asset Management. The investment will be used to fund 4G Clinical’s continued global expansion, support the growing demand for 4G’s products, and to further the company’s mission of bringing crucial medicines to those who need them, faster. 4G Clinical was founded in 2015 by seasoned entrepreneurs and RTSM technology experts, David Kelleher and Ed Tourtellotte, to accelerate clinical trials by leveraging Natural Language Processing (NLP) to disrupt the way trials are executed. 4G Clinical’s Prancer RTSM enables life sciences companies to reach First Patient In (FPI) up to 50% faster than other providers and implement mid-study changes more efficiently. 4G Clinical’s clinical supply optimization solution, 4C Supply, incorporates real-time RTSM actuals to prevent stock-outs and reduce drug waste. Life sciences organizations are also increasingly shifting to modern eClinical solutions like 4G Clinical’s Prancer RTSM and 4C Supply to address the rising complexity of clinical trials. To date, 4G Clinical now supports clinical trials for over 100 biotech and pharma clients globally.


$201M: Series C for Liquid Biopsy

InterVenn Biosciences has announced the completion of a $201 million Series C financing. The funding round was led by new investors SoftBank Group, Heritage Provider Network, Irving Investors, Highside Capital Management, and backed by existing investors Amplify Partners, Anzu Partners, Genoa Ventures and True Ventures. The proceeds from the financing will be used to accelerate the development and commercialization of Dawn, the company’s liquid biopsy assay for immune checkpoint inhibitor response prediction, and to expand the network of partners on the company’s AI-driven glycoproteomics platform. Bolstered by encouraging early results and promising performance, InterVenn will invest in the development of glycoproteomics-based liquid biopsy solutions across the oncology spectrum of care (screening through therapy response monitoring), as well as non-oncology applications. Additionally, the financing will enable InterVenn to expand investment in a partnership ecosystem to accelerate the development and commercialization of new clinical solutions and broaden insights into new biomarkers and therapies.


$180M: Series C for AI-Designed RNA Therapeutics 

Deep Genomics has closed a $180 million Series C financing round. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the financing with participation from new investors, Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Alexandria Venture Investments, and existing investors Amplitude Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Magnetic Ventures, and True Ventures. Since its founding in 2015, Deep Genomics has built a suite of predictive systems known as the AI Workbench, which has made billions of predictions across the entire human genome, for millions of genetic variants, and hundreds of millions of novel compounds. This level of productivity has not been possible using traditional non-AI approaches. Deep Genomics is rapidly progressing its first 10 AI-discovered programs toward the clinic. The Series C funds will help the company expand the AI Workbench and scale its pipeline to 30 programs. The platform is increasingly being applied to more complex and common diseases. As part of this, the company will embark on a large-scale data generation effort across 100 genes to identify novel targets, mechanisms, and preclinical programs. In addition, the company plans to advance four programs into the clinic by 2023, and further establish its clinical development capabilities. In parallel, Deep Genomics will continue to leverage partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies to expand its clinical development capacity.


$90M: Series C for Minimal Residual Disease Assays

Strata Oncology has completed a $90 million Series C financing, bringing the company’s total financing to over $130 million since the company’s inception. The proceeds will be used to accelerate the development of Strata Oncology’s personalized minimal residual disease (MRD) assay for early-stage cancers and advance its pipeline of novel RNA-based treatment selection tests for solid tumors. Wellington Management led the financing and was joined by other new investors. The financing supports Strata Oncology’s efforts to expand its comprehensive genomic and transcriptomic profiling platform to deliver a portfolio of industry-leading treatment selection tests for solid tumors. The company's platform, which integrates comprehensive genomic profiling and highly quantitative RNA expression profiling, enables comprehensive molecular insights from a single, minute tumor tissue specimen. In a recent study shared at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, Strata Oncology demonstrated the potential of its platform, identifying a new multifactorial biomarker that can predict immune checkpoint inhibitor benefit.


$88.5M: Series B for Targeting the Proteome

Frontier Medicines Corporation has closed a $88.5 million Series B financing round co-led by Woodline Partners LP and RA Capital Management, with equal participation by Deerfield Management Company. Additional new investors in the round included Deep Track Capital, ArrowMark Partners, Driehaus Capital Management, and Sphera Healthcare alongside existing investors DCVC, Droia Ventures, and MPM Capital. The proceeds will be used to advance Frontier’s wholly-owned pipeline of precision medicines against the most important drivers of cancer. The company’s lead program is uniquely focused on the inhibition of both the activated and inactive forms of KRASG12C, which is implicated in a number of cancers such as non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal carcinoma, and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.


$70M: Series A for AI-Guided Precision Cancer Therapy

Xilis, which uses its MicroOrganoSphere (MOS) technology to guide precision therapy for cancer patients and accelerate drug discovery and development, has closed a $70 million Series A financing. The round was led by Mubadala Capital, joined by new investors including GV (formerly Google Ventures), LSP (one of Europe’s largest healthcare investment firms), Catalio Capital Management, and Duke Angel Network. Current investors Felicis Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, Pear VC, KdT Ventures, and Alix Ventures also participated. Xilis’ MOS has been proven to have broad applications including accurately predicting therapeutic responses to help clinicians prioritize cancer treatment strategies for each patient and enabling high-fidelity pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. Proceeds from the Series A funding will further advance Xilis’ proprietary MOS technology, expand its AI-driven capabilities, fund clinical studies for diagnostic development, and validate the use of MOS technology with biopharma partners.


$46.2M: Australian IPO for Point-of-Care Diagnostics 

Lumos Diagnostics has been admitted to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) with trading commencing on July 5 after raising $63 million AUD in an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Lumos is a fully integrated developer and manufacturer of custom POC diagnostic tests, with corporate head offices in Melbourne, Australia and U.S. based R&D, commercial operations and manufacturing in both Florida and California.The IPO received strong participation from top tier institutional funds as well as additional support from existing investors including Australian Unity, Perennial, Soul Pattinson and Ellerston. Lumos has a pipeline of complementary diagnostics that will leverage similar distribution channels as its existing commercially available tests – subject to successful development and receipt of necessary regulatory approvals. In addition, it is intended that these tests will leverage Lumos’ proprietary family of readers, potentially offering a pathway to future at-home testing solutions. The funds raised under the offer will be used to support Lumos’ growth strategy and future commercial opportunities. This includes infrastructure and capacity expansion; sales and marketing; pipeline and technology development; regulatory, clinical and quality team expansion; working capital; and to meet the costs of the offer.


$45M: Series B for Clinical Trial Platform 

Castor, a leading provider of clinical trial software, announced today the closing of a $45 million Series B financing round, bringing the company’s total funding to $65 million. The round, led by Eight Roads Ventures and F-Prime Capital with participation from existing investors Two Sigma Ventures and Inkef Capital, will fuel continued product development with a particular focus on scaling direct-to-patient trials globally.Castor offers a modern, self-service clinical research platform, which enables every researcher worldwide to design studies and integrate data from any source in real-time. Patients can enroll themselves in trials, consent and share their data online or via a mobile app, allowing the industry to seamlessly shift to decentralized clinical trials (DCT). These capabilities have been critical during the COVID-19 pandemic as Castor’s customers were able to quickly change their study designs and incorporate increased collection of remote patient data.


$33.7M: Novartis Foundation Investment in Black Health

Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation today announced a planned 10-year collaboration with Coursera, the National Medical Association, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Morehouse School of Medicine and 26 additional Historically Black Colleges, Universities and Medical Schools (HBCUs) to co-create programs that address the root causes of systemic disparities in health outcomes and create greater diversity, equity and inclusion across the research and development ecosystem. The Novartis US Foundation plans to invest about $13.7 million to establish three research centers at Morehouse School of Medicine including a clinical trial center of excellence to increase diversity among clinical trial investigators and participants; and an additional $20 million in scholarships, mentorships and research grants over the next 10 years to help create equitable access to high quality education and professional development for HBCU students in health-related fields.


$31M: Integration of EHR with Clinical Research Data 

ObvioHealth, a global Virtual Research Organization (VRO), announces it has raised $31 million in its latest round of financing. The round was led by two new partners: Dedalus Group, an international healthcare IT and diagnostic software provider, leader in Europe and backed by Ardian, and Novotech Health Holdings Pte. Ltd. (“Novotech”), Asia Pacific’s highest revenue biotech-specialist CRO in 2020. The collaboration with Dedalus integrates clinical research with EHR (electronic health record) data, facilitating clinical trial design and recruitment while helping healthcare providers from over 6000 hospitals and clinics to deliver better care to more than 330 million patients. The initial stage of the partnership enables researchers to collaborate with hospitals to conduct granular prognostic and predictive analysis for identification of more precise patient subpopulations while maintaining full compliance with stringent European privacy and data safety regulations.


$30M: Series A for AI-Driven Gastrointestinal Disease Treatment

Iterative Scopes has closed a $30 million Series A financing. The round was led by new investor Obvious Ventures, with participation from Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc., the venture capital firms Breyer Capital and Seae Ventures, as well as a number of leaders in healthcare, including Lee Shapiro, Zach Weinberg and Nat Turner. Iterative Scopes was founded in 2017 as a spinout of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by Dr. Jonathan Ng. The company is building a powerful set of proprietary artificial intelligence (AI)-driven computational tools to identify appropriate treatments and guide clinical trials for patients suffering from gastrointestinal diseases. The funds will be used to further develop the company’s core algorithmic innovations and to advance its growing life sciences businesses.

$29.6M: Investment Fund for Start-Up Biotechs 

Novalis Biotech, an early-stage venture capital investor in technologies aimed at revolutionizing healthcare, has closed its €25 million second fund, the Novalis Biotech Acceleration Fund. Both new and returning investors have participated in the fundraising. The second fund investor base includes institutional investors, such as Participatie Maatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV), family offices, as well as HNWIs. The Biotech Acceleration Fund will continue to invest in start-up and scale-up companies that are transforming healthcare through “enabling technologies”. Examples of these technologies are genomics, bioinformatics, drug research or manufacturing tools, diagnostics, and personalized medicine. Investments will be split between early-stage incubation projects and later stage acceleration projects. So far, investments have been made in the enabling technologies being developed by Grapheal and RheaVita. Novalis will continue leveraging its strong network in Benelux, and plans to further extend its investments across Western Europe and the U.S.


$29.4M: Series B for Brain Mapping 

Omniscient Neurotechnology has completed an AUD 40 million Series B financing round. The funding was led by family offices and high-net worth individuals, including Hancock Prospecting’s Executive Chairman Mrs. Gina Rinehart, and prominent fund manager Will Vicars. Using innovations in medical imaging and machine learning, Omniscient builds applications capable of modelling and analyzing connectomes or brain networks which are formed by the electrical connections within an individual’s brain. This technology transforms complex brain data into clear insight for doctors, psychologists, neuroscientists and brain technology innovators to better treat neurological disorders and mental illnesses. The funding will allow Omniscient to accelerate its research and product portfolio, and expand its science, engineering, and sales teams globally. Additionally, the company will expand market access to its research platform, Infinitome, and its neurosurgical planning platform, Quicktome, which recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance.


$25M: Series B Round for Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation 

MedRhythms, a leader in developing prescription digital therapeutics that use sensors, software, and music to measure and improve walking for patients with a neurologic injury or disease, has closed a $25 million Series B financing round co-led by Morningside Ventures and Advantage Capital, with participation from existing investor Werth Family Investment Associates. The Company has raised a total of $34 million in gross proceeds from private financings since inception. The proceeds from the Series B financing will enable MedRhythms to expand its team and key corporate functions as the company commercializes its flagship product for chronic stroke survivors with walking deficits and advances its digital therapeutics pipeline.


$15M: Series C Equity Investment for Cryo Treatment 

R2 Technologies has received an additional round of $15 million in funding from its founding investor, Pansend Life Sciences, LLC, as a Series C equity investment which closed on July 20, 2021. The investment established a post-money valuation of $150 million for R2. The funds will be used to expand the company’s corporate footprint and US commercial acceleration of Glacial Rx, its first-to-market revolutionary CryoAesthetic treatment, FDA-cleared to remove benign lesions and temporarily reduce pain, swelling and inflammation. The investment will also fuel global growth and development of R2 Technologies’ upcoming innovations that are currently planned for future rollout. In preparation for the unprecedented growth expected in the upcoming year, R2 is accelerating its manufacturing process to meet the current pent-up and future anticipated demands from the professional market. Additionally, the team will be ramping up marketing efforts to further drive education and awareness across both the consumer and professional channels.


$15M: Series A for Hair Loss

Stemson Therapeutics has closed a DCVC Bio-led $15 million Series A financing to advance development of Stemson’s proprietary therapeutic solution to cure hair loss. Genoa Ventures, AbbVie Ventures and other investors join in supporting Stemson’s efforts to restore human hair growth with a novel cell regeneration technology using the patient’s own cells to generate new hair follicles. The Series A financing brings the total funding raised to date to $22.5 million and allows Stemson to further the next stage of research and development of its cell engineering platform, where is it being combined with bioengineered material and robotic delivery as a novel solution for natural hair replacement. Currently, Stemson’s research and development efforts are focused on developing an optimized solution for human skin structure environment in larger animal models. Stemson’s Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) based technology is capable of producing the cell types required to initiate hair follicle growth and have been successfully tested in small animal models.


$12.3M: Series A for Cancer Liquid Biopsy 

SAGA Diagnostics AB, a cancer liquid biopsy and genomic testing company, has raised SEK 106 million (€10.5 million) in a Series A2 financing from both existing and new investors. The Series A2 round was led by Segulah Medical Acceleration and the Sciety investment syndicate with strong support from existing shareholders such as Hadean Ventures. SAGA is commercializing proprietary technologies to quantify cancer-associated genetic aberrations in tissue and liquid biopsy samples, and are uniquely capable of achieving limits of detection down to 0.001% mutant allele fraction. SAGA’s platform technologies, which are based on digital PCR and next-generation sequencing, are tools to be used in cancer patient stratification, therapy response monitoring, disease relapse identification, as well as in aiding in treatment decisions and as companion diagnostics. Funds will now be used to extend SAGA’s range of CE-marked SAGAsafe dPCR assays, accelerate the commercialization of SAGAsign in minimal residual disease monitoring, launch the SAGAseq platform, establish CLIA laboratory capabilities, execute clinical studies, and perform other expansion activities.


$6M: Seed Round for AI Platform for Personalized Medicine 

MDI Health launched its breakthrough end-to-end AI platform for personalized medication, and announced a $6M seed round, the first results of live clinical trials in Israel, and the launch of new pilots in the USA with one of the top three largest health insurers and top five largest health systems in the country. MDI’s personalized AI technology takes medication management to the next level, providing the world’s first full solution to adverse drug events. Not only automating CMRs so clinicians can complete them in minutes instead of hours, but also enabling them to make comprehensive and informed decisions on prescriptions based on multi-drug interactions, individual medical history, lifestyle, and other key patient-specific factors. As tested recently in clinical trials at Hadassah University Hospital in Israel, MDI Health’s AI platform presented up to 40% more life-saving patient insights than the clinical pharmacists had identified.


$5M: Seed Round for Healthcare Price Transparency, Contract Negotiation 

Turquoise Health has closed a $5 million seed funding round. The round is led by Andreessen Horowitz, with Bessemer Venture Partners, Box Group, individual investors Henry Ward, Megan Callahan, Jonathan Bush, and NBA Champion Klay Thompson. Turquoise will use this funding to support product development around its vision of creating fully informed, empowered consumers of healthcare. Prior to the January 2021 hospital price transparency legislation, it was impossible for patients, payers and providers to know the cost of hospital care in advance. Turquoise Health has worked to solve that problem by curating over 175 million records of never-before seen hospital rates and releasing products to make this data accessible to all. The Hospital Rates Database puts the data directly into the hands of engineers and analysts, while the Provider Rate Search enables data discovery with predictive search and powerful filters. The Turquoise website gives consumers free access to explore hospital pricing and understand medical costs like never before. Through this funding round, Turquoise will expand its payer-provider platform to enable do-it-yourself service bundling and direct-to-provider contracting to further support healthcare's path to widespread transparency.


$3.5M: Seed Round for AI-Powered Cell Therapy Design 

Modulus Therapeutics has completed an oversubscribed $3.5 million Seed round. The round was led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from KdT Ventures, and the Allen Institute for AI (AI2). Modulus also announced the formation of their Scientific Advisory Board with founding members Alana Welm and Raphael Gottardo. The new funding will be used to expand development of Modulus' Convergent Design platform that combines key technology components, including gene editing, machine learning, multi-omics, and high-throughput in vivo screening to bring an intelligent, unbiased approach to immune cell therapy design. Modulus is first focused on developing therapies based on natural killer (NK) cells for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, building on recent momentum in deploying these cells against solid tumors. Despite the rapid growth of the cell therapy market, the design of these cells is still largely a bespoke, craftsman-like process limited by human understanding of biology.


$1.5M: For Collaboration, Data Integration Platform

Colabra has raised an overextended $1.5 million funding round led by Village Global, Builders VC, Inovia Capital, BoxOne VC, On Deck Runway Fund, Longtail Health Ventures, Duro Ventures, Jude Gomila, and others. Colabra is a collaboration and data integration platform designed specifically for scientific teams. The platform enables scientists across an organization to track their workflows, provide feedback, and—most importantly—share data and outcomes. These capabilities combine to eliminate inefficiencies and foster more innovative research. The product allows scientists to find any experiment anyone on their team has done in the past, find all experimental inputs and outputs in one place, and easily build on the work of others. They’re able to integrate various scientific data formats, create protocols, and track experiment workflows. Plus, Colabra complies with regulatory requirements, for example FDA 21 CFR Part 11, which is necessary for work to be admissible in court. The company plans to use the capital to build up the engineering team and invest in integrations.