Google Announces New Diabetes Partnership With Sanofi

Just three weeks after spinning its Life Sciences division out from X Labs and into its own stand-alone business (cleaver new name TBD, according to Google), the company announces that it has signed a new research and development agreement with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi. Sanofi is the fifth largest pharmaceutical company in the world, and makes a healthy portion of their revenue from Lantus, the world’s best selling insulin. In the new partnership, the pair will team up to design Web-enabled glucometers and insulin pens, and an interface suite designed to push real-time data from the devices to physicians and population health program coordinators who can help patients manage their conditions.

Google Announces New Diabetes Partnership With Sanofi

The new partnership follows several years of diabetes-focused projects for the former X labs team, but marks Google’s first public acknowledgement that diabetes would be the initial focus of its life sciences company’s efforts. Former X Labs Life Sciences director, and now CEO of the new business unit, Andrew Conrad explains, “Diabetics are far more likely to have heart attacks, they’re far more likely to have cancer, and they’re 15 times more likely to have their foot cut off because of vascular issues. If we could prevent strong and profound fluctuations in the levels of blood sugar, we could prevent most of the problems associated with diabetes.”

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Jerry The Bear Tackles Pediatric Patient Education

Providence, RI-based digital health startup Sproutel, which dubs itself  a Disney World for healthcare, will be bringing a new patient education tool to market next month, a teddy bear named Jerry. The bear is far more than a traditional teddy bear, this bear has diabetes and requires care which includes insulin and a proper nutritional diet. The bear is being marketed to pediatric endocrinologist’s as an innovative form of patient education designed to teach newly diagnosed diabetic children about their condition and how to properly manage it.

Jerry The Bear Tackles Pediatric Patient Education

Launched in 2012, Sproutel has moved its company from concept to launch on less than $1 million in VC funding. The team of four graduated from BetaSpring’s accelerator program, and has since raised two angel rounds, one in 2012 and the other in 2013, both backed primarily by Jumpstart Ventures. In June 2015, the team won a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the Small Business Administration to further develop Jerry the Bear’s curriculum.

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Researchers Develop App That Predicts Suicidal Tendencies With 92 Percent Accuracy

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Indianapolis VA Medical Center have published promising findings from a study evaluating the predictive power of online mood surveys when it comes to identifying patients struggling with suicidal thoughts. Researchers set out to establish “improved, objective, and quantitative” ways of predicting suicidal behavior, ultimately incorporating both an online mood survey and blood test results in an algorithm-based approach that demonstrates an impressive 90 percent accuracy of predicting suicidal ideation.

Researchers Develop App That Predicts Suicidal Tendencies With 92 Percent Accuracy

The study, which was published in this month’s issue of Molecular Psychiatry, followed 217 male patients recruited from the Indianapolis VA Medical Center over the course of several years. Researchers drew blood and had participants complete mood surveys every three to six months for the duration of the study. Within the 217 patients, the team was hoping to identify a subset of patients that would ultimately go through a period of suicidal thoughts during the study, as measured on the mood questionnaires. Researchers wanted to use data collected from these participants to compare the blood work results from when they were non-suicidal with the same results from when they were having strong suicidal thoughts. Of the 217 initial participants, 37 reported experiencing both no suicidal ideation and high suicidal ideation at varying points in the study. Over the course of the study, 106 blood samples were taken from the group. The results from these samples were compared with blood samples taken from 26 deceased males of the same demographic makeup that had recently committed suicide. Samples taken from the initial 37 participants, along with the 26 post-mortem samples collected, became the focus of the data analysis for the remainder of this study. Researchers combing through the blood work results in this dataset discovered 11 biomarkers that independently predict suicidal ideation with a 70 percent accuracy.

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UC San Diego Researchers Eye 3D Printed Nano-Fish As New Drug Delivery System

A team of engineers working at the University of California, San Diego has developed a method for 3D printing fish shaped microrobots that can propel itself through liquids and be steered by a remote operator with magnets. The new microrobots were described in this month’s issue of Advanced Materials, and researchers hope that the breakthrough locomotive properties of the fish will bring developers closer than ever to realizing a viable microrobot-based drug delivery system.

UC San Diego Researchers Eye 3D Printed Nano-Fish As New Drug Delivery System

Called microfish by its inventors, the robots are smaller than the width of a human hair and, unlike its predecessors, these structures have complex shapes that allow it to propel itself forward. The fish have tail fins made of platinum nanoparticles and a hydrogen peroxide coating. When placed in liquid, the fish propels itself forward through a naturally occurring chemical reaction between the platinum and the hydrogen peroxide. The fish is also manufactured with a magnetized iron oxide nanoparticle head. Researchers are able to steer the microfish as it swims by manipulating the magnetic fields around it. Earlier attempts to incorporate propulsion and steering capabilities into microrobots have relied on “microjet engines, microdrillers, and microrockets” which are all typically cylindrical in shape and do not lend well to sophisticated maneuvering.

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PillPack Raises $50 Million Series C To Ramp Up Its Full Service Online Pharmacy

Cambridge, MA-based digital pharmacy startup PillPack has raised a $50 million Series C led by fellow Boston local Charles River Ventures, and with additional participation from Accel Partners, Menlo Ventures, Atlas Venture, and Sherpa Ventures. The new funding follows PillPack’s $9 million Series B by just under a year, and brings the company’s total raised to $63 million. PillPack is also a 2013 TechStarts graduate.

PillPack Raises $50 Million Series C To Ramp Up Its Full Service Online Pharmacy

Launched in 2013, PillPack started as a tech-savvy online pharmacy competing in a market alongside more than 40,000 other online retail vendors selling prescription medication to Americans over the internet. At the time of its launch, researchers estimated that upwards of 97 percent of online pharmacy retailers were illegitimate, internationally-based operations shipping counterfeit medications into the country with no regulatory oversight. To differentiate itself in this market, PillPack worked hand-in-hand with insurers, providers, and the The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to substantiate itself as a legitimate player in the emerging digital health marketplace. Now, with the necessary certifications in hand, PillPack competes against other reputable online retail pharmacy chains, including Drugstore.com, and Walgreen’s online pharmacy service.

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Bayer Announces Second Class To Its Grants4Apps Accelerator

Bayer unveils the five digital health startups that have been accepted into the second class of its Berlin-based digital health accelerator program. The announcement came during a kickoff celebration for the new class at Bayer headquarters on Friday and follows the unveiling of Bayer’s inaugural class by almost exactly one year. The new class will begin immediately, and will spend the next three months working toward the program’s culminating demo day on November 27th.

Bayer Announces Second Class To Its Grants4Apps Accelerator

The selected teams come from across the globe, and will spend the next three months living in Berlin and working in office space at Bayer’s headquarters. Teams will have bi-weekly mentorship meetings with Bayer executives and strategic coaching sessions with seasoned entrepreneurs, a third coach will work with each team to develop and validate each company’s business model and financial prospectus. In addition to mentorship and office space, each startup will receive $58,000 in seed funding paid out in four monthly installments during the program.

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Google Shutters Flu Trends Site, But Will Continue To Offer Data Access To Researchers

Google announces that it will shut down its Google Flu Trends platform, effective immediately. The company made the announcement on Thursday, reporting that the project was a helpful platform to research new techniques in what it calls “nowcasting,” applying real-time data analytics of its search data to measure global trends. Since its 2008 launch, Google has forecasted both influenza and dengue fever on a global scale using algorithms that detect spikes in keyword searches correlated with flu symptoms. Those spikes were then geo-located and plotted on a map, presenting a real-time glimpse into the spread of flu as the flu season unfolded.

At launch, Google hoped that the platform would be able to match the accuracy of the CDC’s reporting on flu prevalence, with the added benefit of offering the data in real time. Currently, the CDC’s models rely on diagnosis information submitted by providers and hospitals, and as a result, the resulting surveillance reports are not real-time. In the years since its launch, Google has benchmarked its forecasting success by comparing its flu estimates with the CDC’s. The platform generated a flood of publicity in 2009, just a year after its launch, when it forecasted the H1N1 Swine Flu outbreak a full two weeks before the CDC was able to confirm the outbreak. However, in the following years, researchers noticed that Google’s platform seemed to consistently overestimate flu prevalence, and in 2014 the data scientists behind the project announced that Flu Trends would be redesigned to improve accuracy.

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ZocDoc Raises $130 Million Series D on $1.8 Billion Valuation

ZocDoc has raised a massive $130 million Series D funding round according to recently filed SEC forms, bringing its total funding since launch to $230 million. The New York-based digital health giant is selling preferred stock for $28.22 per share, valuing the company at $1.8 billion. That share price is nearly double the $14.75 it was asking for preferred shares during its $75 million Series C fundraising round in 2011. The new round was led by Baillie Gifford and London-based Atomico, both first-time investors in ZocDoc, and included returning investor Founders Fund. Forbes reports that Yuri Milner’s DST Global and Khosla Ventures are likely also included in the list of returning investors. With a $1.8 billion valuation, ZocDoc is now one of the highest valued venture-backed companies in New York, trailing only Blue Apron ($2 billion) and WeWork Companies ($10 billion).

ZocDoc Raises $130 Million Series D on $1.8 Billion Valuation

ZocDoc launched in early 2007, promising to bring streamlined appointment-booking services to the medical community. The team followed a tried and tested modern-era business model of building a thin layer of free technology between consumers and an industry, and then monetizing access to those consumers. ZocDoc initially launched the platform in Manhattan, and within a year of launching went on to raise a $5 million Series A. Since then, the company has had little trouble raising funds as it saw year after year of steady and continued growth. With the announced new funding, ZocDoc reports that it is on pace to double its health system clients yet again in 2015. Today, ZocDoc is used by 7 million patients per month to book appointments with providers spanning more than 50 specialties. The ZocDoc team has expanded its market presence from Manhattan across the US, and now covers 60 percent of the general population.

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