Good day. Venture capitalists are betting on a variety of startups seeking to cure autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissue, affect more than 24 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Existing medications often suppress the immune system. This tamps down the effects of autoimmune diseases, but also can increase the patient's risk of infection. Startups are developing therapies designed to treat autoimmune disorders while leaving beneficial immune defenses intact.
Some, including GentiBio Inc., which recently raised a $157 million Series A financing, intend to use certain cells that combat harmful immune responses, called regulatory T cells, as drugs to treat autoimmune diseases.
Taking a different approach is German startup Topas Therapeutics GmbH, which recently increased its Series B round to EUR40 million, equivalent to $46.8 million. It is devising nanoparticle drugs designed to teach the immune system to stop battling the patient's own tissue. Topas expects its treatments, which are taken up by certain cells in the liver, will trigger regulatory T cells while also depleting the supply of harmful immune cells involved in the person's disease.
Its pipeline includes potential treatments for pemphigus vulgaris, which causes painful blistering, and celiac disease, an immune reaction to gluten found in bread and many other foods.
And now on to the news.
Teaming up. Venture-capital firm General Catalyst has joined with hospital chain HCA Healthcare Inc. in a collaboration aimed at injecting digital innovation into medical care. General Catalyst and HCA plan to consider various business opportunities, such as co-investing in startups or building companies together, said General Catalyst Managing Partner Hemant Taneja.
General Catalyst, a technology and healthcare investor, has made early investments in digital-health companies such as Livongo Health Inc., which helps patients manage diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Through the partnership, General Catalyst seeks to better understand the challenges HCA faces and technologies that could address them.
HCA has reached its first deal through the partnership, agreeing to sell its PatientKeeper business, which provides software and mobile applications to physicians and care teams, to Commure Inc., a General Catalyst-backed company that is building a technology platform to help healthcare providers collaborate on patient care.
Illumina Completes Deal for Grail Despite FTC Antitrust Challenge
Illumina Inc. on Wednesday said it completed its planned $7.1 billion acquisition of Grail Inc., despite a continuing legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission and separate antitrust concerns in Europe, The Wall Street Journal's Brent Kendall reports. The company said there was no legal impediment to closing the transaction now, and said it moved to do so to prevent regulatory proceedings from killing the deal by running out the clock. San Diego-based Illumina develops and sells next-generation, genetic-sequencing machines and the chemicals used in them. Grail, based in Menlo Park, Calif., was founded by Illumina and spun off in 2017. It has been developing liquid biopsy tests that examine blood samples for genetic signs of cancer, a product that, if successful, could have a significant impact in healthcare.
Florida, Texas Turn to Antibody Treatments as Covid-19 Surges
Doctors are increasingly turning to antibody drugs in a bid to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by a surge of Covid-19 cases, a turnabout after months in which the treatments went mostly unused. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., the primary provider of the treatments, delivered 135,023 drug doses to U.S. healthcare providers last week, a ninefold increase from a month earlier, according to data shared by the company with The Wall Street Journal.
Other VC News
Startup That Develops AI-Pumped Robotic Arms Raises $37 Million
Rapid Robotics Inc., a startup focused on automating the factory floor, has raised roughly $37 million, tapping prominent venture investors on the thesis that its robotic arms can help factories address the labor and parts shortages dragging on companies across the economy, WSJ Pro's Marc Vartabedian reports. San Francisco-based Rapid develops robotic arms that perform manufacturing tasks in sectors like automotive components, semiconductors, medical devices and others. Venture firm Kleiner Perkins and Tiger Global Management led the Series B deal. Venture firms New Enterprise Associates, Greycroft, Bee Partners and 468 Capital also participated in the financing, which valued Rapid at roughly $193 million.
Tomorrow Health, which helps patients secure home-health equipment, appointed Rodrigo Arévalo as chief operating officer. He was previously at Uber. In April, New York-based Tomorrow Health said it raised $25 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Q'Apel Medical Inc., a developer of novel access device technology for vascular interventions, named Thomas Berryman as chief financial officer. He previously founded Privy, and before that, he was president and chief executive of WaveTec Vision Systems. Early this year, Fremont, Calif.-based Q'Apel raised a $22 million Series C round from River Cities Capital, Soleus Capital and Research Corporation Technologies.
Workplace mental health platform Modern Health named Gyre Renwick as chief operating officer. Mr. Renwick joins the company from Podium, where he served as chief revenue officer. Based in San Francisco, Modern Health has raised more than $172 million from Founders Fund, Battery Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Afore Capital, MGV and 01 Advisors.
HiberCell, which is focused on preventing cancer relapse and metastasis, acquired Genuity Science Inc. for $100 million in cash. In May, HiberCell closed on $67.4 million in Series B funding, in addition to a $30 million debt facility. Investors included ARCH Venture Partners, Magnetic Ventures, Bristol-Myers Squibb and others. Genuity Science, formerly known as WuXi NextCode, was backed by investors including Temasek Holdings, Yunfeng Capital and Sequoia Capital.
Shanghai MediTrust Health Technology Co., a Shanghai-based medical payment platform, scored $308 million in Series C funding led by Boyu Capital and Janchor Partners. New investors including Lily Asia Ventures, Lake Bleu Capital, Bank of China Group Investment, AIHC Capital and New Alliance Capital also contributed to the round, along with existing backers Sinovation Ventures, China Renaissance and Marathon Venture Partners.
Maven Clinic, a virtual clinic for women's and family health, closed a $110 million Series D round. Dragoneer Investment Group and Lux Capital co-led the funding, which included participation from BOND, Sequoia Capital, Oak HC/FT, Icon Ventures and Oprah Winfrey. Eric Jones, partner at Dragoneer, will join the company's board.
Vigil Neuroscience Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup harnessing the power of microglia immune cells in the brain to treat neurodegenerative diseases, completed a $90 million Series B round led by Vida Ventures. New investors Surveyor Capital, Invus, OrbiMed, Deep Track Capital, Pivotal bioVenture Partners and Lightstone Ventures also participated in the round, alongside returning backers Atlas Venture, Northpond Ventures and Hatteras Venture Partners. Stefan Vitorovic, co-founder and managing director of Vida Ventures, will join the board.
Beckley Psytech Ltd., a startup using psychedelic medicines to address neurological and psychiatric disorders, secured $80 million in an oversubscribed Series B round. Integrated led the funding, which included additional support from Prime Movers Labs, Adage Capital Management, Palo Santo, Delphi VC, Leafy Tunnel, Negev Capital and Bicycle Day Ventures.
Carrot, a fertility-care provider, landed $75 million in Series C financing. Lead investor Tiger Global Management was joined by OrbiMed, F-Prime Capital, CRV, U.S. Venture Partners and Silicon Valley Bank in the round.
Immunitas Therapeutics Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based startup harnessing an emerging technology known as single-cell sequencing to develop cancer treatments, picked up $58 million in Series B funding. Agent Capital led the round, which saw participation from investors including Alexandria Venture Investments, Leaps by Bayer, M Ventures, Novartis Venture Fund, Longwood Fund, Medical Excellence Capital, Solasta Ventures and Ono Venture Investment. In addition to the financing, Amanda Wagner was promoted to chief business officer. Before joining Immunitas, she was vice president of corporate development at Q32 Bio. Agent Capital's Geeta Vemuri and Medical Excellence Capital's Brian Halak will join the board.
Jnana Therapeutics, a Boston-based startup whose lead program for the treatment of phenylketonuria will soon enter clinical development, closed a $50 million Series B round. RA Capital Management led the investment, which included support from existing backers Polaris Partners, Versant Ventures, Avalon Ventures, AbbVie Ventures and Pfizer Ventures. Matthew Hammond, principal at RA Capital, joined Jnana's board.
Ranok Therapeutics, a China-based developer of breakthrough therapies for cancer and other serious diseases, secured $40 million in Series B financing led by Lapam Capital and Shanghai Healthcare Capital.
ClosedLoop.ai., an Austin, Texas-based healthcare data science platform, grabbed $34 million in Series B funding. Lead investor Telstra Ventures was joined by Breyer Capital, Greycroft Ventures, .406 Ventures and Healthfirst in the round.
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