New $100M fund to invest in pre-revenue medical device and digital health startups

New $100M fund to invest in pre-revenue medical device and digital health startups

Photo: Abscent84, Getty Images

Accelmed, a group of funds that invests in health tech companies, announced Monday that it is launching a new, nearly $100 million fund to invest in early-stage, pre-revenue medical devices and digital health startups in Israel and around the world.

This is the fourth fund launched by Accelmed, which currently manages more than $300 million. The new fund will be led by Dr. Irit Yaniv and Amir Blatt, both partners at Accelmed. Dr. Yaniv said that the fund will help to alleviate the problem that device entrepreneurs face in raising capital for their novel devices, in a news release. Blatt said that the fund will invest in device companies “in advanced clinical trials, nearing FDA approval, and after first-in-human trials” whereas in digital health, the fund will invest in “companies in initial commercialization stages in the US, be it with hospitals or insurers.”

The fund expects to make an average investment of $8 million to $10 million per startup, including follow-on investments.

Accelmed comprises of two entities:

  • Accelmed Partners – a U.S. -based private equity fund focused on health tech that does buyout and growth investments in commercial-stage companies.

  • Accelmed Ventures – an Israel based venture fund that invests in pre-commercialization health tech companies.

Since Aceelmed’s founding in 2009 by Dr. Uri Geiger, founder and managing partner and Mori Arkin, it has funded about 20 healthtech companies, of which several have been acquired.

These include Edge Medical Devices that was sold in 2011 to Claymount, which was then acquired by Varian Medical Systems; NLT Spine was sold to Seaspine Holdings in 2016; and MCS (Medical Compression Systems) was sold to Zimmer Biomet in 2017.

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Source: New $100M fund to invest in pre-revenue medical device and digital health startups

Uber and Lyft are playing larger roles for Medicaid

Uber and Lyft are playing larger roles for Medicaid

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

Arizona Medicaid Director Jami Snyder heard many complaints about enrollees missing medical appointments because the transportation provided by the state didn’t show or came too late.

So this summer she hatched a solution familiar to millions of Americans looking for an efficient ride: She turned to Uber and Lyft.

Arizona became the first state to revamp its Medicaid regulations to make it easier for ride-sharing companies to participate in its nonemergency transportation benefit. Under the changes, Arizona eliminated several safety rules, such as requiring all drivers to undergo drug testing and first aid training.

The strategy has added thousands of vehicles to the fleet serving Arizonans on Medicaid, nearly 24% of the state’s 7 million residents.

“It seemed like an obvious solution,” Snyder said. “So far, our anecdotal reports have been very positive.”

As they seek to lower costs and improve care, Medicaid and other insurers have begun to examine the transportation needs of patients — along with other so-called social determinants of health such as adequate food and housing. Whether states save money remains to be seen.

In 2017, more than 2 million Medicaid enrollees under age 65 ― about 4% of the program’s members — delayed care because they lacked transportation, according to a federal survey.

Lyft is working with about 35 state Medicaid programs or Medicaid managed care organizations, according to LogistiCare, one of the nation’s largest Medicaid transportation brokers. Uber works with Medicaid only in Arizona.

Lawmakers in Florida and Texas this year also relaxed state regulations to make it easier for Uber and Lyft to provide services for appropriate Medicaid patients. That service is expected to begin early next year.

Uber and Lyft can’t handle all Medicaid transportation demands because they generally don’t have enough drivers with cars fit to ferry people with serious disabilities, such as those who use a wheelchair. But Arizona’s Snyder said many Medicaid enrollees are healthy enough to use a typical ride-sharing service.

Van Means, executive director of a company that Arizona pays to arrange transportation for Medicaid enrollees, said the expanded options help even some patients who can’t use them.

“It gives us way more supply, it’s faster and frees up space [in specialized transportation] for people who need more substantial help such as those in wheelchairs,” he said.

In most traditional Medicaid transportation programs, patients need to reserve rides days ahead and then often must share a van. In contrast, the ride-sharing companies need little advance notice and can easily take solo passengers.

To ease the use of Uber and Lyft, states generally waive safety requirements that are standard for more traditional transportation. Those include mandates that drivers undergo drug testing and learn first aid and CPR. State officials said such mandates are not necessary since Uber and Lyft serve ambulatory enrollees who likely are in better health than those needing specialized transportation.

The ride-sharing companies already work with hospitals and health systems across the country, but participating in Medicaid could bring them millions of more riders.

Unlike typical Uber or Lyft riders, Medicaid enrollees don’t order rides on their smartphones. Instead, these patients will continue to request transportation services by phone or computer through their health plan or a Medicaid transportation broker.

The Medical Transportation Brokerage of Arizona said about 15% of rides taken by Medicaid recipients this summer relied on Uber and Lyft.

So far, though, Means said the brokerage hasn’t found the service substantially cheaper in most areas of the state.

Arizona officials did not have an estimate of cost savings.

Officials at Atlanta-based LogistiCare said working with Lyft in dozens of cities has added vehicles and helped speed service.

“The ride-sharing companies are cost-effective and for curb-to-curb, urban or suburban short-distance trips,” said Effie Carlson, a LogistiCare executive vice president.

But she cautioned that the companies are not the ideal option for enrollees who need extra time getting in and out of their house because drivers typically leave within five minutes of arriving.

Uber and Lyft are often cheaper than using taxis or other private transportation companies, but not always. She noted that when companies raise prices during peak-traffic hours, alternatives may be less expensive.

Carlson said her company decides whether ride-sharing services or more traditional transportation is most appropriate based on the health information provided about each Medicaid enrollee.

The Medicaid transportation benefit varies by state but typically includes rides by taxi services, wheelchair vans, private vehicles, and public transportation. Enrollees are eligible for the services if they do not have another means of transport.

Despite states’ growing interest in expanding transportation options, a University of Pennsylvania study, published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine, found providing ride-sharing services did not improve the no-show rate for primary care appointments among Medicaid patients in West Philadelphia. The no-show rate among patients offered free rides was 36.5%, compared with 36.7% for those who weren’t offered free rides.

Krisda Chaiyachati, co-author of the study and a University of Pennsylvania associate professor of medicine, said reliability of transportation is not the only factor determining whether Medicaid enrollees show for medical appointments. “People on Medicaid tend to live more chaotic lives, so they may be more OK with missing primary care appointments,” he said, referring to how low-income people often fear missing work, or have difficulties arranging childcare and other necessities.

Still, Chaiyachati envisions Uber and Lyft playing larger roles for Medicaid.

“Their cars can be everywhere, and having a dispatcher draw upon that network is a no-brainer,” he said. “It may not solve the transportation needs for everybody, but it’s certainly an answer for many.”

Megan Callahan, vice president of health care at Lyft, said she expects more states to adopt ride-sharing.

“I think what we are seeing is the beginning of a domino effect,” she said. “Our overall driver availability and speed are the big advantages that will have an impact on Medicaid members’ satisfaction.”

Uber officials said in about dozen cities they are developing a fleet of drivers trained to work with patients who must travel with fold-up wheelchairs, walkers and scooters.

“From a cost standpoint, we can save states significant dollars,” said Dan Trigub, head of Uber Health.

Phil Galewitz is a senior correspondent, Kaiser Health News.

Source: Uber and Lyft are playing larger roles for Medicaid

Analysis: Impact of CVS, Walgreens, Walmart Retail Healthcare Expansion Strategies

Analysis: Impact of CVS, Walgreens, Walmart Retail Healthcare Expansion Strategies

– Recently, Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens have all announced their intent to invest in healthcare. Placer.ai, an advanced foot traffic analytics platform, analyzed their data to take the temperature of those efforts.

– Walgreens experiences an even greater reliance on evening hour visits than CVS. Analyzing the period from January 2017 through August 2019, Walgreens saw 27.6% of visits come between the hours of 6 pm to 12 am.

– While these moves may give a tremendous amount of hope to both brands, Walmart, the king of offline retail, is a significant threat looming on the horizon. 

– The move into health services could provide a major boon for CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, adding new revenue streams and increasing core retail metrics like visit duration and repeat visits.

One of the critical themes that will determine offline retail success in the coming years will be the capacity to maximize physical locations. That will obviously place a huge emphasis on site selections, store formats, localized approaches to store stocking and more. But an important piece of this puzzle will center around the ability to take full advantage of each space with added services. Whether it be classes in a Lululemon or a meal at a Crate & Barrel, the change is coming.

And no sector is experiencing this shift with greater force and focus than Health. In recent months, Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens have all made significant announcements regarding their intention to dive more deeply into Health services.

We dove into the data to analyze the potential impact.

The Opportunity

When CVS announced the expansion of their Health Hubs, the first place to look was the potential value of pilot sites in Texas. Unsurprisingly, the locations showed a unique ability to extend visit durations, and to bring visitors during beneficial off-peak time periods. The result is a unique combination of a new revenue source, an ability to expand classic shopping with added visits, and visits that can be scheduled for off-peak hours to maximize the full day.

So to measure success, the locations would be looking to show ‘greater than average’ visit durations and visits during off-peak hours. And this is just what the CVS pilot showed. Two of the pilot sites have shown average visit durations of 42 (red) and 41 (green) minutes respectively. This is is 22.1% higher than the nationwide average for CVS, for the period since the launch of the pilot in February 2019. Looking at the graph below shows how much more dependant the CVS nationwide average is on shorter visits.

Even more, these visit durations amounted to an increase of 7.7% and 10.8% respectively for those specific locations when comparing the period between January 2017 through January 2019, to the time since the pilot was launched.

Why The Wider Trend?

There is always the concern that this is perhaps a CVS-centric benefit that has a unique capacity to support that chain. But, in this case, it looks like Walgreens may have even more to gain. Walgreens (red) sees an even greater reliance on evening hour visits that CVS (blue). Analyzing the period from January 2017 through August 2019, Walgreens saw 27.6% of visits come between the hours of 6 pm and 12 am. While the absolute number of visits may remain stagnant, the ability to drive more morning visits could help increase earning potential.

Beware The Giant

While these moves may give a tremendous amount of hope to both brands, there is a significant threat looming on the horizon – Walmart. Walmart, the king of offline retail, is obviously involved in the trend as well with a specific focus on leveraging its massive retail footprint to get involved in health services. Analyzing the location of one of their first Walmart Health sites shows a location that is already a strong and consistent performer.

Yet, there are already indications that the plan may indeed be working. Analyzing average daily traffic for September 2018 compared with the first 17 days of September 2019 shows an increase of 7.6%. This is a dramatic difference for a brand that already boasts huge daily visitor numbers. However, all this should be taken with needed caution as Walmart spikes can be related to a variety of factors, and not just the launch of a new service. In fact, even a minimal percentage increase could provide tremendous revenue improvements because of the audience size.

Moving Into Health

The move into health services could provide a major boon for CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, adding new revenue streams and increasing core retail metrics like visit duration and repeat visits. Yet, the move must be seen within a wider context. Offline retailers have recognized that the full value of their physical footprint is not being met and are increasingly searching for new and innovative ways to fill this gap.

The experiential shopping perspective is spreading and more brands are going to ask how to better utilize the offline investment to maximize value.

The analysis originally appeared at  https://blog.placer.ai/2019/09/26/pushing-into-health/and is re-published with permission from Placer.ai, the world’s most advanced foot traffic analytics platform.

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Source: Analysis: Impact of CVS, Walgreens, Walmart Retail Healthcare Expansion Strategies

Drug may protect against Alzheimer’s symptoms

Drug may protect against Alzheimer’s symptoms

A new drug, BPN14770, may protect against memory loss, nerve damage, and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers report.

Preclinical research found that BPN14770 deters the effects of amyloid beta, a hallmark protein of Alzheimer’s that is toxic to nerve cells.

Recent studies find Alzheimer’s may develop without dementia in nearly 25% of healthy 80-year-old patients, suggesting the body may turn to compensatory mechanisms to maintain the nervous system.

BPN14770 could help activate these mechanisms that support nerve health and prevent dementia, even with the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Its benefits could also translate to Fragile X syndrome, developmental disabilities, and schizophrenia, the researchers say.

“Such observations imply that Alzheimer’s pathology can be tolerated by the brain to some extent due to compensatory mechanisms operating at the cellular and synaptic levels,” says Ying Xu, co-lead investigator and research associate professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.

“Our new research suggests that BPN14770 may be capable of activating multiple biological mechanisms that protect the brain from memory deficits, neuronal damage, and biochemical impairments.”

Working with mice, the researchers found that BPN14770 inhibits the activity of phosphodiesterase‐4D (PDE4D), an enzyme that plays a key role in memory formation, learning, neuroinflammation, and traumatic brain injury.

PDE4D lowers cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)—a messenger molecule that signals physiological changes such as cell division, change, migration, and death—in the body, leading to physical alterations in the brain.

cAMP has numerous beneficial functions, including improved memory. By inhibiting PDE4D, BPN14770 increases cAMP signaling in the brain, which ultimately protects against the toxic effects of amyloid beta.

“The role of PDE4D in modulating brain pathways involved in memory formation and cognition, and the ability of our PDE4D inhibitor to selectively enhance this process, has been well studied,” says Mark E. Gurney, chairman and chief executive officer of Tetra Therapeutics, which developed the drug. “We are very excited by our colleagues’ findings, which now suggest a second protective mechanism of action for BPN14770 against the progressive neurological damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Developing effective drugs for memory deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease has been challenging,” says James M. O’Donnell, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “BPN14770 works by a novel mechanism to increase cyclic AMP signaling in the brain, which has been shown to improve memory. The collaborative project has led to clinical trials that will begin to test its effectiveness.”

Tetra Therapeutics is conducting Phase 2 clinical trials of BPN14770 in patients with early Alzheimer’s and adults with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Results of previous Phase 1 studies in healthy elderly volunteers suggest the drug benefits working, or immediate, memory. Animal studies found that BPN14770 has the potential to promote the maturation of connections between neurons, which are impaired in patients with Fragile X syndrome, as well as protect these connections, which are lost in patients with Alzheimer’s.

“There has been enormous interest in our ongoing Phase 2 trial of BPN14770 in 255 patients with early Alzheimer’s, and we are hopeful this study will show an impact of PDE4D modulation in this disease. Topline results are expected mid-2020,” says Gurney.

The study appears in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Support for the research came from the National Institutes of Health Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute on Aging, and National Institute of Mental Health.

Source: University at Buffalo

The post Drug may protect against Alzheimer’s symptoms appeared first on Futurity.

Source: Drug may protect against Alzheimer’s symptoms

Liquid biopsy developer OncoCell MDx raises $22.2M in Series B round

Liquid biopsy developer OncoCell MDx raises $22.2M in Series B round

An entrant into the liquid biopsy space has closed a venture capital raise of more than $20 million that it will use for its development and commercialization efforts.

Royal Oak, Michigan-based OncoCell MDx said Wednesday it had raised $22.2 million in a Series B round, led by Savitr Capital and with participation from existing investors. To date, the company has raised a total of $30 million. It plans to use the funding from the latest round to support development and commercialization of its test, for use in several cancers as well as other diseases. It also plans to launch its prostate cancer test next year.

In a phone interview, CEO Mark McDonough said that what distinguishes OncoCell’s test from other liquid biopsy tests in development is that it can filter out extrinsic factors like food and beverages and intrinsic factors like age, gender and ethnicity by looking at both lymphocytes and phagocytes. “What we’re doing is interrogating the phagocytic white blood cells and comparing them against lymphocytic white blood cells,” he said.

Chief Medical Officer Kirk Wojno explained in the same phone interview that the company aims to measure disease earlier than other liquid biopsy tests, when the immune system initially reacts to it. “We’re leveraging our own immune system’s ability to notice changes in the body,” he said.

In addition to prostate cancer, OncoCell has run some initial data in cancers of the colon, lung and head and neck, McDonough said. It also has initial data beyond oncology in disease states like rheumatoid arthritis, cardiac disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Over the next four to six months, the company plans to submit several papers to academic journals, starting with one that it submitted this month. The papers deal with topics like how purified CD2 and CD14 immune cells respond to different disease stimuli, how prostate cancer signatures can be discovered and validated using artificial intelligence and machine learning and so forth. McDonough said the first paper has been submitted to a “high-profile journal,” and the company hopes to hear back within a month.

OncoCell is one of several companies developing liquid biopsy tests. On Tuesday, Baltimore-based Personal Genome Diagnostics announced results of a study showing that its liquid biopsy test for microsatellite instability and high tumor mutational burden could predict patients’ responses to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

Photo: Getty Images

Source: Liquid biopsy developer OncoCell MDx raises $22.2M in Series B round

Datica Launches New Health Data Integration Platform That Works With Any EHR, Any Data, In Any Format

Datica Launches New Health Data Integration Platform That Works With Any EHR, Any Data, In Any Format

– Datica launches new health data integration platform, Integrate that mitigates the complexity and risk of integrating and using healthcare data in the cloud.

– Integrate, is the first and only any-to-any solution that combines healthcare data integration with compliance, as well as a full set of services to ensure successful integration.

– Its HITRUST CSF Certified integration APIs also work with any EHR, any data, in any format.

Today, Datica, a provider of a complete, cloud-based platform that mitigates the complexity and risk of integrating and using healthcare data in the cloud, has launched a new health data integration platform. The solution, Integrate, is the first and only any-to-any solution that combines healthcare data integration with compliance, as well as a full set of services to ensure successful integration. Its HITRUST CSF Certified integration APIs also work with any EHR, any data, in any format. Integrate results in the most complete and scalable solution for those who collect, store, manage and share protected health information (PHI) in the cloud.

Activate Your Digital Health Product with Health Data In Any Format

Integrate
brings together two industry-leading solutions, Datica’s
Compliant Managed Integration and Emissary, into a single advanced solution as
a result of the recent merger between Datica Health,
Inc. and Sansoro Health, Inc. Datica Integrate is a proven application
programming interface (API) solution that allows health data to be exchanged
across any EHR platform – while ensuring compliance and the utmost security for
PHI. Modern times call for modern measures. Datica Integrate allows you to
focus on your product – not on the integration.

Within
days, you are up and running with comprehensive APIs that work across EHRs. Datica
Integrate is also a fully compliant application package that alleviates the
hardships of working with standards-based interoperability, such as HL7v2 or
FHIR.

The Bigger Picture

Healthcare’s adoption of the cloud is on the rise, which has
resulted in an increased need to use patient data to power the next wave of
innovative healthcare applications. However, the complexity of healthcare data
exchange and compliance has created significant hurdles to bringing advanced
digital health solutions to market. Datica Integrate now offers a complete solution
to solve the complexities of both healthcare data interoperability and
compliance, helping to streamline the development and management of
HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based digital health solutions. As a result, previously
cumbersome development processes become frictionless, resulting in enhanced,
secure solutions at lower cost and with greater speed to market.

“Developing healthcare applications in the cloud means overcoming key obstacles like compliance and integration—a big challenge for innovation teams that often prevents them from creating the breakthrough solutions healthcare needs,” said Dave Levin, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Datica. “Integrate removes the stress, risk and complexity of EHR integrations—without sacrificing PHI security—so our customers can focus on delivering exceptional solutions to today’s healthcare challenges.”

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Source: Datica Launches New Health Data Integration Platform That Works With Any EHR, Any Data, In Any Format