Biotech

What Andreessen’s ‘Bio Fund III’ means for healthcare

This is the web version of Brainstorm Health Daily, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top health care news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here. Happy Tuesday, readers. When Andreessen Horowitz pours money into an industry, word tends to get around. So when the venture capital giant pours $750 million into a single sector, you really know that something big is going on. On Tuesday, Andreessen announced a third iteration of its biopharmaceutical and digital health fund, dubbed simply “Bio Fund III.” The firm used aspirational language to describe its ambitions and promote what is literally a three-quarters of a billion dollar fund. “Software is now affecting not just how we do not just one thing—cloning DNA, or engineering genes—but how we do it all acro...

For what ails Super Bowl athletes? Former NFL player talks up a new long-lasting knee treatment

In the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV, broadcasters, retired athletes, and, yes, retired athletes who are now broadcasters descended upon Miami for an annual spectacle called “Radio Row.” The event gives former pro athletes the chance to promote a wide range of products. As The Ringer dubbed it in a recent piece, Radio Row is the “sport world’s greatest native ad.” “We end up serving as leaders in the space, we want to continue to stay in the game,” former NFL star Solomon Wilcots told Fortune. The former free safety, who played in Super Bowl XXIII for the Cincinnati Bengals against the San Francisco 49ers, was in town to promote a drug that may be of particular interest to athletes sporting (or hiding) a limp: Flexion Therapeutics’ Zilret...

Our Annual Reflection on the Future: 10 Health Care Predictions for 2020

As we near the end of 2019, it is time for us to look ahead and share what we believe 2020 has in store for the health care ecosystem. But first, let’s look back and assess how we did with our 2019 predictions.  Overall, we got about half correct (five or six out of 10 depending on whether you count Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina’s attempt to consolidate with Cambia).  What we got right was growth of Accountable Care Organizations, more digital health consolidation, dialysis disrupted, dramatic growth in telemedicine, and breakthroughs in DNA sequencing platforms.  We were wrong about electronic health records (EHRs)—both about any meaningful improvement in the UI and that the government would break the ice on interoperability.  While there has been lots of talk about both of the...

Health Care Investors Predict 10 Ways the Industry Will Change in 2020

As we near the end of 2019, it is time for us to look ahead and share what we believe 2020 has in store for the health care ecosystem. But first, let’s look back and assess how we did with our 2019 predictions.  Overall, we got about half correct (five or six out of 10 depending on whether you count Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina’s attempt to consolidate with Cambia).  What we got right was growth of Accountable Care Organizations, more digital health consolidation, dialysis disrupted, dramatic growth in telemedicine, and breakthroughs in DNA sequencing platforms.  We were wrong about electronic health records (EHRs)—both about any meaningful improvement in the UI and that the government would break the ice on interoperability.  While there has been lots of ta...

The man behind Bezos’ next lunar guidance system talks future tech

Draper, the MIT spin-off engineering lab, is famed for developing the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer (not Draper Esprit, I hasten to add). Ken Gabriel, President and CEO, also recently made a major announcement. Blue Origin has now partnered with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to build elements of the company’s human-rated lunar lander, and Draper will lead the development of the lander’s avionics and guidance systems, with an aim to be ready to land a crew on the moon by 2024. “While Blue Origin is the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin is building the ascent stage, Northrop Grumman is building the transfer element and Draper is doing the GNC (guidance, navigation and control),” Blue Origin CEO and founder Jeff Bezos said, announcing the move at the International Astronautical Congress ...

You’ve heard of CRISPR, now meet its newer, savvier cousin CRISPR Prime

CRISPR, the revolutionary ability to snip out and alter genes with scissor-like precision, has exploded in popularity over the last few years and is generally seen as the standalone wizard of modern gene-editing. However, it’s not a perfect system, sometimes cutting at the wrong place, not working as intended and leaving scientists scratching their heads. Well, now there’s a new, more exacting upgrade to CRISPR called Prime, with the ability to, in theory, snip out more than 90% of all genetic diseases. Just what is this new method and how does it work? We turned to IEEE fellow, biomedical researcher and dean of graduate education at Tuft University’s school of engineering Karen Panetta for an explanation. How does CRISPR Prime editing work? CRISPR is a powerful genome ed...

Chinese Biotech BeiGene Makes a Splash in Cancer Treatment With FDA Drug Approval

This is the web version of Brainstorm Health Daily, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top health care news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday approved BeiGene’s Brukinsa, a treatment for the rare blood cancer mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). The immunotherapy drug is approved for adult patients who have been treated with at least one other medicine. From a business perspective, it’s big news for BeiGene—the China-based biotech that’s one of the pioneers in that country’s biopharma Renaissance. New stock exchange rules in Hong Kong have helped fledgling biotechs in China raise capital; BeiGene, for its part, had a nearly $160 million U.S. public offering in 2016 and then a $903 million seco...

A chat about UK deep tech and spin-out success with Octopus Ventures

New research commissioned by UK VC firm Octopus Ventures has put a spotlight on which of the country’s higher education institutions are doing the most to support spin outs. The report compiles a ranking of universities, foregrounding those with a record of producing what partner Simon King dubs “quality spin outs”. The research combines and weights five data points — looking at university spinouts’ relative total funding as a means of quantifying exit success, for example. The idea for the Enterpreneurial Impact Ranking, as it’s been called, is to identify not just those higher education institutions with a track record of encouraging academics to set up a business off the back of a piece of novel work but those best at identifying the most promising co...

Microsoft uses AI to diagnose cervical cancer faster in India

More women in India die from cervical cancer than in any other country. This preventable disease kills around 67,000 women in India every year, more than 25% of the 260,000 deaths worldwide. Effective screening and early detection can help reduce its incidence, but part of the challenge — and there are several parts — today is that the testing process to detect the onset of the disease is unbearably time-consuming. This is because the existing methodology that cytopathologists use is time consuming to begin with, but also because there are very few of them in the nation. Could AI speed this up? At SRL Diagnostics, the largest chain to offer diagnostic services in pathology and radiology in India, we are getting an early look of this. Last year, Microsoft partnered with SRL Diag...

Medopad raises $25M led by Bayer to develop biomarkers tracked via apps and wearables

Medopad, the UK startup that has been working with Tencent to develop AI-based methods for building and tracking “digital” biomarkers — measurable indicators of the progression of illnesses and diseases that are picked up not with blood samples or in-doctor visits but using apps and wearables, has announced another round of funding to expand the scope of its developments. It has picked up $25 million led by pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, which will be working together with Medopad to build digital biomarkers and therapeutics related to heart health. Medopad said it is also working on separate biomarkers related to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Diabetes. The Series B is being made at a post-money valuation of between $200 million and $300 million. In addition to B...

U.S. Biotech Amgen Strikes Major Deal to Expand China Presence

Good afternoon, readers (and a Happy Halloween to those who “celebrate.”) China is in the early throes of a biotech explosion. And American companies have taken notice. On Thursday, U.S. biotech giant Amgen announced that it will take a 20.5% stake in BeiGene, a firm which IPO’d in the U.S. back in 2016 with a $158 million public offering and then had a subsequent $903 million secondary IPO on the Hong Kong stock exchange in summer of 2018. (Stunningly, that secondary debut was seen as a disappointment compared to what the company could have picked up at the time.) A whole bunch of factors likely played into this decision, including fundamental changes China has made to its financial and public health regulations surrounding experimental biotech companies in recent years....

Will unreliable research bury your healthcare startup?

For healthtech founders and funders, scientific claims and conclusions are more than policy — business models depend upon the lucid appraisal of clinical problems, evaluating inadequacies in current standards of care, a clear understanding of disease pathways, and designing superior interventions.  At each step along this value chain, founders stand on the shoulders of the scientists that preceded them to obtain reliable evidence. When they promote their own innovations, credibility is a critical prerequisite. But where does credibility come from? A 2012 study selecting 50 common cookbook ingredients found that 80% had publications linking their consumption to cancer risk; according to some reports, tomatoes, lemons, and celery all cause cancer. The to-and-fro of nutrition science is emble...

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