23andMe Partners With Fertility Startup To Develop Infertility Genetics Test

Genome sequencing vendor 23andMe has partnered with Celmatix, a New York-based startup working to develop a genetics test designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Founded in 2010, Celmatix has raised $19.5 million in investment capital, coming in the form of a Series A led by Topspin Partners in 2013.

23andMe Partners With Fertility Startup To Develop Infertility Genetics Test

Since its launch, Celmatix has been cataloging genetic mutations associated with infertility and has thus far compiled a list of 5,200 known genetic biomarkers. The team is partnering with 23andMe to gain access to its massive de-identified genetic database in an effort to learn more about these biomarkers. Since its launch in 2006, 23andMe has amassed a database containing hundreds of thousands of fully sequenced genetic samples, that it markets to pharmaceutical companies and other research organizations. The genetic data is valuable because 23andMe also collects self-reported answers to extensive health questionnaires that are submitted alongside the genetic samples. These questionnaires capture detailed information on a variety of health conditions, including fertility, and will help Celmatix learn which genetic mutations are most prevalent among infertile women.

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Withings Launches Hy-Result To Help Fight Hypertension

Withings has announced a new blood pressure monitoring feature that it will make available to users of its Withings Health Mate app. The unveil, Withings explains, was timed to coincide with the start of American Heart Month, an awareness campaign run by the Million Hearts campaign to get people talking about heart health and making healthy lifestyle choices. For its part, Withings is introducing Hy-Result, a set of features designed to help users of its Withings wireless blood pressure cuff trend and interpret their blood pressure readings. Oddly, the new set of features are not free, as many Withings blood pressure cuff owners may justifiably expect. Instead, the add on will be distributed as a $4.99 in app purchase.

Withings Launches Hy-Result To Help Fight Hypertension

Withings says the new features are an improvement over current blood pressure tracking options because it captures multiple readings over several days and from varying times of day, and then analyzes that information alongside medication details and medical history data to determine how well blood pressure is being managed. The app then presents blood pressure results within three colored zones that help users understand their results. The app then offers best-practice recommendations for lowering blood pressure and allows users to share their results with their doctors.

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As Virtual Reality Matures, Fitness Applications Emerge

2016 has been pegged as the year virtual reality goes mainstream by dozens of major news outlets, including NPR, BBC, and Fortune. Those predictions are all based largely of development timelines made public by Facebook for its Oculus Rift headset, which will appear in stores in 2016, as well as speculation that Sony’s PlayStation VR will be on shelves before the 2016 holidays. Others are nearing the point of having a marketable product as well, including Samsung and its Gear VR headset, and HTC’s Vive VR. Apple has also been rumored to be developing a VR platform as its next major initiative, though in typical Apple form, very little is known about the scope of functionality or timeline associated with that effort.

As Virtual Reality Matures, Fitness Applications Emerge

As virtual reality makes it was in front of consumers, fitness applications are beginning to emerge. VirZOOM, a virtual reality startup building exercise equipment and a library of games compatible across multiple VR platforms, has just announced the Q2 availability of its flagship product, a connected exercise bike. VirZOOM’s exercise bike looks much like a conventional bike, however, the handle bars have been enhanced to double as game controllers, and when playing games that require driving, running, or other activities like horseback riding, users can propel and steer themselves within the VR game by steering and peddling the exercise bike. The bike will retail for $400, and VirZOOM plans to sell a supplemental $10 monthly subscription to users that will allow them to play games from its library. Alternatively, users can opt to pay a one-time $200 subscription fee. CEO Eric Janszen explains, “The games are specially designed to encourage interval exercise with periods of intense pedaling in response to game play, followed by periods of rest.”

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UK Moves Forward With CRISPR Human Embryo Editing Research

Genetics researchers working from the Francis Crick Institute in London have been given approval to begin using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing techniques on human embryos. Working under lead researcher and biologist Kathy Niakan, the team will focus its research on studying early cellular development of human embryos. Specifically, embryos will be monitored through the first seven days of natural development, growing from a single cell to around 250 cells. During this process, researchers will use CRISPR/Cas9 to remove sections of DNA to monitor how editing an embryo at the single cell level impacts downstream embryonic development.

UK Moves Forward With CRISPR Human Embryo Editing Research

An important ethical note about the approved research is that scientists will not attempt to edit the DNA of embryos with the goal of eliminating specific hereditary diseases or traits, but are instead focusing on building a more refined understanding of the earliest stages of human development and how genetic coding and gene editing impacts this early development. Researchers have confirmed that they will source embryos from fertility clinics, where single-cell embryos are created in a laboratory environment and then transferred to the mother’s uterus. In many cases, this process results in an excess of healthy single-cell embryos. These embryos will be used by researchers to monitor early development, and will not be allowed to develop beyond seven days.

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One Medical Acquires Digital Health Startup Rise For $20 Million

Concierge provider chain One Medical announces that it has acquired digital health startup Rise for $20 million. Rise launched in 2013 with an app designed to provide one-on-one diet coaching and nutritional support for users trying to eat healthier and lose weight. The acquisition concludes the fast paced lifecycle of Rise, which raised $4 million in VC funding before its acquisition, undoubtedly leaving early investors pleased with their return. Google Ventures, Greylock Partners, and Floodgate all participated in the startups seed round.

One Medical Acquires Digital Health Startup Rise For $20 Million

Rise approached app development from the perspective of offering a clinical service through its platform, rather than offering a purely technical solution like many calorie counting and fitness tracking apps typically do. Rise hired a team of nutritionists and fitness coaches and committed to delivering personalized, one-on-one support to its users. Coaches used the Rise app to connect and engage with end users to check in with them and keep them motivated. The company monetized this platform through a monthly subscription fee that averaged $40 to $50 per month, a steep price in app store economics. Facing steep competition to gain traction among so many free alternatives, the acquisition benefits Rise in more ways than just financially. Greylock partner John Lilly explains “It’s hard to build distribution for apps at all today. That’s one of the advantages One Medical has. They have this footprint in the real world.”

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Abbott Earns CE Mark For Needle Free Glucose Monitor

Abbott Laboratories announces that it has obtained a CE Mark authorizing it to begin marketing a new non-invasive glucose monitor in Europe. The approval is limited to pediatric diabetic patients between the ages of four and 17 living in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Abbott Earns CE Mark For Needle Free Glucose Monitor

Abbott’s needle-free glucose monitor is a two-part system. The first part is a disposable patch that is worn on the back of the arm. This patch is responsible for measuring and storing glucose readings. The patch is expected to be worn 24 hours per day for 14 days, and as such is completely waterproof so users can wear it through the shower. The second part is a handheld device that displays glucose readings. Users are instructed to scan the patch with their handheld device whenever they want to check their blood glucose level. At that point, the patch transmits the most recent glucose reading to the device for display. The process is painless for the wearer and takes only one second to register a result. After 14 days, users discard the disposable patch and replace it with a new one.

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Pear Therapeutics Raises $20 Million Financing Round For Substance Abuse Digital Therapy Apps

Boston-based digital health startup Pear Therapeutics has raised a $20 million equity financing round co-led by 5AM Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, and JAZZ Venture Partners, with additional investments from Bridge Builders Collaborative and several private investors. The company was founded in 2013, and closed an undisclosed venture round in 2015, but the current funding round is Pear’s first publically disclosed outside investment.

Pear Therapeutics Raises $20 Million Financing Round For Substance Abuse Digital Therapy Apps

Pear Therapeutics is taking an interesting approach to digital health app development. The company develops apps designed to supplement specific medications and treatment plans, and conducts randomized controlled trials to measure outcomes improvements among patients using its support apps. With this information, Pear plans to submit its apps to the FDA, seeking clearance to market them as an efficacy boosting tool to be used in conjunction with certain medications. The company has thus far developed apps to support the treatment of substance abuse, opiate dependence, and schizophrenia.

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Doctor On Demand Adds Psychiatry To Its Virtual Visit Options

San Francisco-based telehealth vendor Doctor On Demand today announced that it would begin offering psychiatry visits as part of its virtual mental health services business. The company notes that its mental health care providers generally offer routine, ongoing counseling to patients, and that with the new addition of psychiatry services patients can now be evaluated and prescribed medications to support traditional therapy all within the Doctor On Demand platform. The new services will initially be made available in 27 states, but the company anticipates expanding availability across the country by mid-year.

Doctor On Demand Adds Psychiatry To Its Virtual Visit Options

Mental health is an area that has seen increased interest among biotechnology researchers and digital health entrepreneurs. The toll on national healthcare expenditures associated with mental health services is massive, with $100 billion in annual healthcare services spending, plus an estimated $193 billion in lost earnings and $24 billion in disability benefits. Access to care is also a national issue. In a statement announcing the new initiative, Doctor On Demand reports that 55 percent of the 3,100 counties in the US do not have local mental healthcare workers, and that only 45 percent of those with a mental health illness receive treatment.

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