Money on the Move: Tessera, Unlearn.AI, Blue Spark, Alzheon and Trevana

Funding

The major pharma and biotech money winners this week were tech-heavy, including a DNA editing platform, a machine-learning platform that creates digital patient “twins” and wearable temperature-monitoring patches. Continue reading for that and more. 

Tessera Therapeutics

Genetic medicine pioneer Tessera Therapeutics raked in a huge Series C financing worth more than $300 million. The funding was led by Flagship Pioneering, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation and Altitude Life Science Ventures, among others.

The Series C attracted many investors because of Tessera’s unique genetic gene writing technology. Unlike CRISPR gene editing, which destroys damaged DNA, Tessera’s gene writing platform writes new sequences of DNA into the genome. This gives the unique platform the potential to both cure and prevent nearly any disease at a scalable level.

“We are thankful for the support from our new partners and existing investors alike in this latest funding round. It is our belief that genetic medicine will be the most important next epoch in medicine,” said Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Ph.D., CEO of Tessera Therapeutics.

Unlearn.AI

Unlearn is a machine-learning technology that creates a digital “twin” of patients in clinical trials to enable smaller, faster studies. The unique company closed a $50 million Series B round this week, led by Radical Ventures, Insight Partners, DCVC Bio and Mubadala Capital Ventures.

The funding will help advance Unlearn’s TwinRCT™ platform feature, which uses a patient’s medical history, disease information and AI to essentially create an extra patient that functions as though it were receiving a placebo treatment in a trial. This allows the real patients to receive the trial medication and potentially benefit from it. The funding will also help expand Unlearn’s goal of expanding into clinical trials.

Blue Spark Technologies

As a leader in wearable remote patient monitoring solutions, Blue Spark Technologies was able to raise a $40 million growth fund. The funding is an intellectual property-based debt solution led by Ghost Tree Partners and Aon. With the monetary support, Blue Spark hopes to create more patient monitoring solutions. Currently, its only product on the market is TempTraq, a Bluetooth-enabled disposable patch that patients wear to monitor fever spikes for up to 72 hours. TempTraq is an FDA-cleared Class II medical device, and Blue Spark says it has more products in the pipeline.

“Having Ghost Tree’s support and expertise will be invaluable as we continue to expand our remote patient monitoring solutions to the market,” said John Gannon, president and CEO of Blue Spark.

Alzheon

Massachusetts-based Alzheon, a clinical-stage biopharma company developing therapies to treat and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, closed an oversubscribed Series D round of financing worth $50 million. The press release said that the funding came from private and institutional investors, but did not name anyone specifically.

The funding will largely go toward Alzheon’s ALZ-801 drug, an oral agent that blocks the formation of amyloid oligomers in the brain, a significant contributor to Alzheimer’s Disease. ALZ-801 has shown positive results throughout a Phase II biomarker trial, and Alzheon hopes the Series D financing will help bring the product to market.

Trevena

Trevena, a biopharma company that develops medicines to treat Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases, received a $15 million tranche from its royalty-based financing agreement with an affiliate of R-Bridge Healthcare Fund. The original agreement totaled roughly $40 million and included an initial $15 million tranche, $15 million for the sale of opioid-based analgesic Olinvyk to China, and $10 million dependent on achieving milestones.

R-Bridge is an affiliate of CBC Group, one of Asia’s largest pharma and biotech groups. R-Bridge will receive royalties from Trevena’s license with Jiangsu Nhwa Pharmaceutical and is hoping to have Olinvyk approved by China by the end of 2023.

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