Follow the Money: Health Equity Research, Clinical AI, Telehealth, More

May 30, 2023 | PCORI funding opportunities for comparative clinical effectiveness research; Carolina consortium gets NIH funding for health equity research, funding to grow Southeast Asia’s largest telehealth platform; more. 

$452M: Funding Opportunities for Comparative Clinical Effectiveness Research

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has begun inviting proposals for new studies and implementation projects through nine funding opportunities. These PCORI Funding Announcements (PFAs) include four offering up to $452 million for comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies comparing health care approaches to help patients and their caregivers make better-informed health choices given their particular circumstances. Additional PFAs offer funding for a range of projects that support and advance patient-centered CER and use of PCORI-funded research results.


$401M: Series D for Cell and Gene Therapy Platform

ElevateBio’s latest round brings its total capital raised to date to approximately $1.3 billion, adding new investors—Woodline, Lee Family Office and R&D partner, and Novo Nordisk. Proceeds from the Series D will support further expansion of ElevateBio’s cell and gene therapy platform technology offering, increase its cGMP manufacturing capacity, and expand the company’s manufacturing and process development footprint to multiple metropolitan areas. With the funding announcement, Elevate announced a multi-target strategic collaboration between Novo Nordisk and ElevateBio’s gene editing technology company, Life Edit Therapeutics to discover and develop gene editing therapies for rare and cardiometabolic diseases. Under the terms of the collaboration, Life Edit will receive an upfront payment and will be eligible to receive milestone payments of $250-335 million per program totaling approximately $1.9 billion as well as tiered royalties and an option to profit share on one program.


$140M: NIH Funding Opportunities for Somatic Mosaicism

The National Institutes of Health is launching a new program, the Common Fund’s Somatic Mosaicism Across Human Tissues (SMaHT) Network, that aims to transform our knowledge of how much genetic variation there is in the cells and tissues throughout our bodies. Somatic mosaicism is a type of genetic variation that arises when our somatic (non-reproductive) cells are genetically different from each other. This somatic genetic variation occurs when some of our cells accumulate DNA changes over time. Somatic mosaicism can alter how cells function and may influence human development, disease, aging, and other physiological measures across the lifespan. The SMaHT Network, with awards totaling $140 million dollars over five years, pending availability of funds, seeks to discover and catalog the breadth of somatic mosaicism in human tissues.


$70M: Carolina Universities NIH Grant for Health Equity Research

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has secured a seven-year, $70 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health to accelerate high-impact research that improves human health and advances health equity. The latest grant will provide continued funding for the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute, the academic hub of the CTSA program at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine. The successful grant application is a partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State University and N.C. A&T State University. The new funding renews Carolina’s membership in the CTSA Program, an elite consortium of academic medical research institutions working together to transform the way biomedical research is conducted across the country.


$55M: Financing for Heart Pump

Magenta Medical, developer of the world’s smallest heart pump, announced today a $55M financing round led by global healthcare investment manager OrbiMed, with participation from existing investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Pitango VC, and ALIVE - Israel HealthTech Fund. The financing will be used, among other things, to advance the clinical programs of the company’s product in the United States towards its first FDA approval. Magenta’s percutaneous Left Ventricular Assist Device (pLVAD) is a powerful heart pump that is initially folded, inserted through the groin using a small puncture, and expanded for activation inside the left ventricle. The flow of the pump is adjusted based on the clinical circumstances of the patient, up to the entire cardiac output, allowing the heart to rest and the patient to recover.


$50M: Series B For In Vivo Engineered Cell Therapy Platform

Ensoma, a genomic medicines company developing one-time, in vivo treatments that precisely engineer any cell of the hematopoietic system, today announced the closing of an extension of its Series B financing by $50 million, bringing the total size of the funding round to $135 million. The $50 million was contributed by new investors Kite, a Gilead Company, Bioluminescence Ventures and Delos Capital and by existing investor SymBiosis. These investors joined a syndicate of leading healthcare funds to advance the development of Ensoma’s Engenious in vivo engineered cell therapy platform and pipeline of genomic medicines for immuno-oncology, genetic disease and other therapeutic applications. Other investors in the Series B included 5AM Ventures, Arix Bioscience, Alexandria Venture Investments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Catalio Capital Management, Cormorant Asset Management, F-Prime Capital, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Mirae Asset, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Solasta Ventures, Takeda Ventures, Inc., and Viking Global Investors.


$28.7M: Series C for Rapid Diagnostics of Bacterial Infections

Pattern Bioscience, Inc., an innovator in rapid diagnosis and antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) for bacterial infections, today announced the completion of a $28.7 million Series C financing. The latest funding round was led by Illumina Ventures and Omnimed Capital and includes participation from the Antimicrobial Resistance Action Fund and Daleshaw Ltd. This new round brings the company’s total funding raised to date to $68 million. Pattern is pioneering the use of single-cell microbiology to rapidly diagnose drug-resistant bacterial infections and identify effective treatments. The company will use the new funds to complete the development of its groundbreaking rapid phenotypic test platform for infectious diseases, perform clinical validation studies, and submit the platform and the company’s initial pneumonia test for regulatory review with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


$10M: Series A for Singaporean Telehealth Platform

Singaporean telehealth platform ORA has raised a $10 million Series A funding. This is the largest telehealth Series A in Southeast Asia and was co-led by TNB Aura and Antler with participation from Gobi Partners, Kairous Capital and GMA Ventures, bringing total funding to date above $17 million. ORA is the fastest-growing and biggest vertically-integrated telehealth platform in Southeast Asia delivering over 250,000 consultations and has experienced uninterrupted monthly growth since its 2021 launch. ORA has launched three brands that serve the modern patient living with chronic conditions, making treatment more accessible, convenient, and personal. Modules is a first-to-market online dermatology experience making personalized, prescription skincare accessible with 676 different formulations, Sons offers male health solutions, and OVA delivers female reproductive healthcare.


$9.1M: Grant for Retroviral Vector Manufacturing

 CTMC, a joint venture between Resilience + MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been awarded $9.1M in the newly created Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Texas New Technologies Company grant. The grant will focus on retroviral vector (RVV) manufacturing, an enhanced tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) platform, and a differentiated process development approach to CAR-T manufacturing. CTMC will utilize this grant to establish an industrial and flexible center for RVV manufacturing focused on reducing overall development times through vertical integration with cell therapy development and an integrated regulatory strategy; develop an advanced, commercializable TIL manufacturing platform to improve process robustness; and provide a differentiated process development approach for CAR-T manufacturing by reducing the risk of batch failure and clinical delays.


$7.7M: Series A for Clinical AI Technology

Lucem Health, a leading provider of transformational clinical AI technology and solutions, announced that it has closed a Series A funding round of $7.7 million. Led by Mayo Clinic, Granger Management and Mercy (St Louis), this round builds on Lucem Health's seed funding and includes financing from existing investor Rally Ventures. The funding will be used to advance development of Lucem Health's platform for clinical AI solution deployment, grow the company's solution portfolio and expand its sales and marketing capacity.


$5.7M: Funding for Blood Self-Sampling Technology

Swedish medtech company Capitainer has raised just over $5.7 million to expand and commercialize its unique self-sampling technology for remote healthcare solutions and personalized medicine. The funding will be used to increase production capacity, develop new products, and intensify sales and marketing efforts. The investment round was led by Sciety and the network Sciety Venture Partners. Capitainer's self-sampling technology enables patients to take precise blood samples using a special card, which is then sent for analysis by standard post without the need for refrigeration or special packaging.


$2.4M: DOD Sub-Contract for Large-Scale Protein-Protein Interaction Data

A-Alpha Bio and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are collaborating to combat multiple pathogen families of concern. To enable this work, A-Alpha Bio has been awarded an additional $2.4M sub-contract from the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) in support of the Generative Unconstrained Intelligent Drug Engineering (GUIDE) Program, which the company will use to generate large-scale and quantitative protein-protein interaction (PPI) data and support LLNL’s advanced high-performance computational models for antibody discovery and development. In support of DOD, over the past year, A-Alpha and LLNL have measured tens of millions of protein interactions between antibodies and coronavirus variants using A-Alpha Bio's AlphaSeq platform. The experimental data has proven valuable for building and refining LLNL’s computational models for predicting antibody sequences that bind to current and possible future variants of concern. Under the new funding, the teams will work on 5 selected pathogen families that are considered biothreats.


$2.4M: RADx Award for At-Home Test for Covid-19, Flu, RSV

Domus Diagnostics has received an award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further develop its point-of-care nucleic acid amplification and detection test for simultaneous identification of COVID-19, Flu-A, Flu-B, and RSV. The award, up to $2.4M through the NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Tech program, will support accelerated validation and scaling of Domus Diagnostics' testing platform for clinical trial readiness. The Domus Diagnostics' platform is an ultra-low cost, zero-power testing platform that will produce novel devices that enable user-friendly, accurate, and effective infectious disease testing at home, in doctors’ offices, or in community testing facilities. The devices will provide a significantly more affordable and accessible global option for infectious disease testing.