Follow the Money: CRISPR, Data Science in Africa, Analytics Cloud
November 2, 2021 | CRISPR partnership with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, new public biotech fund, life sciences analytics cloud, immune target validation, single cell analysis, and more.
$830M: Life Science Fund for Public Biotech Companies
Frazier Healthcare Partners announced today the closing of Frazier Life Sciences Public Fund, L.P., exceeding its target and closing on nearly $830 million in capital commitments in an oversubscribed fundraise. Led by Managing Partner Albert Cha, General Partner and Portfolio Manager Jamie Brush, and Managing Partners Patrick Heron and James Topper, Frazier Life Sciences Public Fund is a long-only fund investing in small- and mid-cap public biotech companies. Recent exits of Frazier Life Sciences public investments include ARMO BioSciences (acquired by Eli Lilly), Ignyta (acquired by Roche), Rocket Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RCKT), Translate Bio (NASDAQ: TBIO, acquired by Sanofi), and Trillium Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TRIL, pending acquisition by Pfizer).
$650M: CRISPR Partnership
Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Mammoth Biosciences, the CRISPR biotech company co-founded by Jennifer Doudna, announced a new partnership to develop in vivo gene-editing therapies for two genetic diseases using Mammoth’s next-generation CRISPR systems. Under the terms of the agreement, Mammoth Biosciences will receive upfront payments of $41 million, including an investment in the form of a convertible note, and is eligible to receive up to $650 million in potential future payments based upon the successful achievement of prespecified research, development and commercial milestones across two potential programs. In addition, Vertex will pay tiered royalties on future net sales on any products that may result from this collaboration.
$430M: Investment in Life Science Analytics Cloud
Saama Technologies announced funds led by global investment firm Carlyle have made a strategic growth investment and will acquire a majority stake in the company. A broad co-investor group with several healthcare-focused venture funds, including Amgen Ventures, Intermountain Ventures, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (“Merck GHI”), McKesson Ventures, Northpond Ventures, Pfizer Ventures, and Population Health Partners will be investing alongside Carlyle. The partnership will allow Saama to accelerate its strategic initiatives, including expanding its go-to-market capabilities and further investing in AI research and development. Saama’s intelligent Life Science Analytics Cloud (LSAC) is used by over 50 pharma and biotech companies on more than 1,500 studies. As an end-to-end platform, LSAC provides a unified approach to clinical trial data management and analytics. LSAC’s pre-trained AI embedded smart applications can learn the complex patterns among clinical data and provide predictive insights to accelerate the clinical research process across a variety of domains and therapeutic areas.
$304M: Series D for Decentralized Clinical Trials
Medable announced a $304M Series D funding round—the company’s largest and fourth funding round in 18 months, bringing total capital raised to $521M—and valuation to more than $2B. Medable aims to make clinical research accessible for every body and every biology, bringing effective therapies to patients faster. The company has now deployed its SaaS platform in 60 countries via 150+ decentralized and hybrid trials (including several Operation Warp Speed projects), reaching 1M+ patients globally. By minimizing the need for in-person site visits, Medable’s customers have achieved unprecedented results—including 200% faster patient enrollment, 90% patient retention rates, and 50% cost reductions.
$215M: Series B for Immune Target Validation, Evaluation
Immunai, a New York-based biotech company, announced a $215M Series B, increasing the company’s total funding to date to $295M. The new capital will be used to expand Immunai’s “drug actuary” platform for target validation and evaluation. Immunai has leveraged its best-in-class proprietary technologies and more than 25 academic partnerships to build AMICA, the Annotated Multiomic Immune Cell Atlas, the world’s largest data atlas of clinically-annotated single-cell immune data. This atlas, combined with Immunai’s team of immunologists and computational biologists, provides unique insights into underlying biology that drives disease etiology, allowing the company and its partners to discover novel targets as well as analyze and develop existing pipeline compounds. The Series B was led by Koch Disruptive Technologies, with participation from Talos VC, 8VC, Alexandria Venture Investments, Piedmont, ICON, and more, including previous investors.
$75M: NIH Investment in Data Science in Africa
The National Institutes of Health is investing about $74.5 million over five years to advance data science, catalyze innovation and spur health discoveries across Africa. Under its new Harnessing Data Science for Health Discovery and Innovation in Africa (DS-I Africa) program, the NIH is issuing 19 awards to support research and training activities. DS-I Africa is an NIH Common Fund program that is supported by the Office of the Director and 11 NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices. Awards will establish a consortium consisting of a data science platform and coordinating center, seven research hubs, seven data science research training programs and four projects focused on studying the ethical, legal and social implications of data science research. Awardees have a robust network of partnerships across the African continent and in the United States, including numerous national health ministries, nongovernmental organizations, corporations, and other academic institutions.
$40M: Single Cell Analysis System
Sphere Fluidics, a company developing single cell analysis systems underpinned by its proprietary picodroplet technology, has closed a $40 million (circa £30 million) investment round. The round was led by Sofinnova Partners (Paris, France) and Redmile Group (San Francisco, USA) co-investing on equal terms. Sphere Fluidics will use the funding to enable the expansion of the Company’s international sales activities in key markets and improving its support for customers. Furthermore, it will expand its product research and development programs, including novel applications for its proprietary Cyto-Mine Single Cell Analysis System.
$30M: DOD Investment in COVID-19 Diagnostic Reagents
The Department of Air Force, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), awarded a $30 million contract to Eurofins Genomics US to build a new production facility and expanded capacity for the manufacturing of reagents used in COVID-19 diagnostic tests. The new facility will be located next to Eurofins Genomics' current facility in Louisville, KY, and will focus on the production of GMP grade synthetic DNA, also called oligonucleotides (oligos), for molecular diagnostic testing. Molecular testing is an extremely accurate method for identifying viruses and utilized by a wide array of different applications. In fact, all PCR-based COVID-19 tests are based on molecular technology and accredited as the most reliable type of COVID-19 test.
$24M: Series A for Cryptographic Data Privacy
TripleBlind has received $24 million in an oversubscribed Series A funding led by General Catalyst and Mayo Clinic. This round follows TripleBlind’s pre-seed raise of $8.2 million announced in March 2021. TripleBlind’s solution enables entities to share and collaborate with data anywhere in the world. without the need to share raw data, thus preserving privacy and security while meeting regulatory standards, (including with data while enforcing the data privacy and data residency regulations now in place in more than 100 countries, including HIPAA and GDPR, as well as similar regulations in four U.S. states, such as and California’s CCPA). In addition to General Catalyst and Mayo Clinic, Series A round participants include AVG Basecamp Fund, Accenture Ventures, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Dolby Family Ventures, Flyover Capital, KCRise Fund, NextGen Venture Partners, and Wavemaker Three-Sixty Health.
$12.6M: Lung Research Grants for Covid, Cigarettes, Cancer
The American Lung Association has increased its research funding to award $12.6 million for more than 100 research grants. The funded projects address a wide range of lung health topics, including COVID-19 in children, the public health impacts of e-cigarette policy and lung cancer in never smokers. Research projects funded by the Lung Association are carefully selected through a rigorous review committee and represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues to help reduce the burden of lung disease. In total, $12.6 million was awarded to more than 100 grants, including seven new COVID-19 research grants.
$5M: Cell Therapy for Diabetes
Kadimastem, a clinical stage cell therapy company based in Israel, announced a NIS 16.1 million ($5 million) private placement, led by funds Clover Wolf Capital and Alpha Capital Anstalt and with the additional investment in the company by its controlling shareholders, Professor Michel Revel and Mr. Julien Ruggieri. In addition to the placement announced today, the investors were also given an option to purchase an additional NIS 15.1 million ($4.7 million) in shares in the future. The investment will be used to support Kadimastem’s future clinical trial activity and fund multiple strategic collaborations involving both the company’s ALS and diabetes programs.
$1M: Collaborative Life Sciences Platform
Pluto Biosciences, a biotech software startup and developer of the Pluto collaborative life sciences platform, has raised $1 million in its seed round, led by private investors. Funding will be used to expand the bioinformatics and machine learning-based analyses in its collaborative life sciences platform, democratize access to published research data, and close the gaps in scientific collaboration to drive new, high-impact discoveries. Since its launch in August, Pluto has doubled its staff to drive innovation in the product. In addition to the self-service, cloud-based platform, a Pluto subscription gives labs access to Pluto’s Scientific Solutions team, which performs custom bioinformatics analyses and other professional services tailored to customers’ research goals.