Money on the Move: August 11 – 17
Here’s the shortlist of which life sciences companies took a dip in the money pool this week.
Boston private equity firm Bain Capital has put together a $1.9 billion fund to be spent on medical, drug and biotech projects. Spearheaded by the 16-person team at its life sciences arm, the goal is to find and finance promising endeavors that need help, including ongoing clinical trials that need a financial push, companies looking to expand globally and public firms that still have valuable stocks despite having experienced drops recently. Bain intends to invest some $25 million to $100 million in various projects and companies over the next four years. In 2018, the firm invested $350 million in Cerevel Therapeutics to expand its neuroscience pipeline.
Clinical trial enrollment and patient recruitment create a massive bottleneck in the process of drug development. Boston-based Reify Health is working on a system to proactively reach out to patients everywhere and mobilize the resources to “bring the trials to them.” Last week’s $220 million Series C round will expand Reify’s business platforms: StudyTeam, used by life sciences companies to improve patient enrollment, and Care Access, which increases patient accessibility by bringing a trial to any patient anywhere.
Our immune system is vital for our survival. But for some, it goes into overdrive causing autoimmune diseases which can be chronic, debilitating and sometimes deadly. GentiBio is out to build a better immune system through engineered regulatory T cells. With a $157 million Series A in hand, the Cambridge biotech will advance its lead candidate for Type 1 diabetes to begin IND-enabling studies before the year’s end.
Additional assets are also in the works for indications like biliary cholangitis and viral pneumonia ARDS. The small company is ramping up its team as well, taking its numbers from 17 to around 90 between the Boston HQ and its GMP manufacturing facility in Seattle.
Using the brain to improve gut health is no longer the byline of a holistic self-help book on the shelf, but an actual FDA-approved therapeutic now available on your smartphone. Mahana treats IBS with cognitive behavioral therapy delivered via an app with the promise of “bite-sized lessons to help you build skills and develop a better brain-gut relationship.”
According to its release, the 558 patients using the Mahana IBS program experienced significant clinical improvement in IBS symptom severity, including less abdominal pain, bloating, bowel function dysregulation and adverse impact on daily social activities. And the company doesn’t plan to stop there. Last week’s $61 million Series B will not only help launch its Mahana IBS program but also accelerate development of more digital therapeutics for other chronic health conditions.
Artificial Intelligence is dipping its beak in every sector of the life sciences. Ultromics’ has brought AI to echocardiograms, improving patient care and enhancing diagnostic quality to hospitals. An estimated 17 million deaths each year are due to cardiovascular disease, making it the leading cause of mortality worldwide. Ultromics’ $33 million Series B will be utilized to accelerate the use of its AI-echocardiograms. EchoGo Core and EchoGo Pro are already in use and promoted by several organizations, including Mayo Clinic.
For diabetics, the pricks and pokes required for glucose checks are painful and tiring. To ease the burden of regular blood sugar pricks, Israeli biotech HAGAR has developed the world’s first non-invasive continuous glucose monitoring technology. Gearing up for the trials needed for FDA approval, HAGAR has raised $11.7 million in Series B funds, a decent bump up from its $4.4 million Series A in March. GWave uses RF waves to measure glucose levels in the blood. Version 2.0 is already underway, developing a sensor that can be directly into a smartwatch.