Second Sight Shares Double After Artificial Retina Unveil

 

On a market valuation of $311 million, prosthetic eye manufacturer Second Sight completed a $32 million IPO on Wednesday, offering 3.5 million shares at an initial stock price of $9. The company then watched its shares soar more than 150 percent, opening at $17, and then reaching $22.45 before settling down to a $19.97 end of day price.

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Smartphone-based Lab Analyzer Startup Cue Raises $7.5 Million Series A

San Diego, Calif.-based digital health startup Cue has raised a $7.5 million Series A led by Sherpa Ventures. An interesting mix of secondary investors, including Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, and Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio, filled out the round. The new funds bring Cue’s total raised to $9.5 million after a $2 million seed round provided by hardware startup incubator Highway1.

Cue has developed a DIY blood, saliva, and nasal fluid analyzer that has the potential to process hundreds of diagnostic tests in a person’s home, that would otherwise required a trip to the doctors office. The company modeled its analysis after the ELISA test, a diagnostic test that is frequently used in hospital labs. Cue differentiates itself from ELISA by being much cheaper, and much faster. Cue takes three to five minutes to process a sample, as compared to ELISA which can take several hours in some cases.

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Walgreens To Roll Out Blood Test Services Across All Stores

Walgreens today announced that it will partner with blood test innovator Theranos to roll out minimally invasive blood tests across its 8,200 stores. The tests will be will be available on a walk-in basis, and will reportedly cost 50 to 90 percent less than the Medicaid reimbursement rate.  

Walgreens To Roll Out Blood Test Services Across All Stores

Theranos, a Palo Alto-based healthcare company, was founded in 2003 by a then 19-year old Stanford University drop out named Elizabeth Holmes. Ten years later, and Elizabeth is the youngest billionaire in the US, worth $9 billion as the founder of Theranos, according to Forbes. The has raised $400 million in equity funding since its launch, and recently found success after finalizing an analyzer that can run 70 blood tests on a  sample that is 1/1000 the size of today’s typical blood draw. The sample size required is so small that patients can skip the needle altogether and provide a simple finger stick blood drop, from which an entire array of tests can be processed in just a few hours. The analyzer is FDA approved, and Theranos is now moving head first into the commercialization of its new technology.

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Enter Exhibit A: Your Fitbit Data

It is an unfortunate truth that in our overly-litigious society, there is real demand for new ways of proving that a person is faking an injury, and for the very same reasons, there is an equal demand for better ways of proving that a claimed injury is genuine. Court cases, totaling billions of dollars per year, often hinge on a lawyers ability to validate or debunk a claimed injury. In personal injury cases, plaintiffs sue businesses or other members of the general public for disabilities resulting from an accident or injury. In insurance fraud cases, payers are pressing charges on seemingly healthy individuals that are collecting disability checks illegally. For decades, doctors have been called upon to provide objective testimony in these lawsuits. In these cases, doctors would examine the patient for 30 minutes to an hour, and then discuss the patient’s injury, and the level of disability they are likely experiencing as a result. In some cases, private investigators have been hired in an effort to prove that a patient was faking their disability.

Enter Exhibit A: Your Fitbit Data

Now, lawyers are looking past doctors and private investigators to substantiate disability claims. Instead, they are turning to Fitbit data. The practice started with a personal injury case in Calgary in which a young woman that had been a personal trainer was injured in an accident and is now turning to Fitbit to prove the extent of her disability. In the case, the woman has agreed to wear a Fitbit for several months while activity data is collected. After the monitoring period, data analytics vendor Vivametrica will analyze her physical abilities, and benchmark them with other healthy females of a similar age. The woman’s lawyers hope that the data will show that the woman is less physically capable than she was before the accident, thus substantiating her claim. The benefit of turning to Fitbit data is that it extends the court’s view of physical ability to cover several months, far more than the 30 minute doctors office examination that legal decisions would have been based on when a doctors testimony was the only information available.

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Harvard Launches Healthy Heart Online Tools

Researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health have launched a new heart health risk calculator that is designed to look beyond blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, and instead focus on behavioral choices. The science behind the calculator is based on lifestyle trends identified during a 24-year long study of 62,000 women and 34,000 men. In the study, researchers were able to pinpoint certain traits and behaviors, like having an elevated BMI or eating processed meats, and then quantify the overall impact each of these traits had on developing heart disease later in life. Findings from the study were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association last week.

Harvard Launches Healthy Heart Online Tools

Now, Harvard public health researchers have turned the lifestyle data uncovered in the study into an online survey where users can answer questions about their own lifestyle choices, and then see their overall heart disease risk. The survey is long, and focuses almost entirely on diet and activity levels, asking detailed questions about how much fiber you’re getting, how many alcoholic drinks per week you are having, how many times you’re going to the gym, and how sedentary your overall daily life is. At the conclusion of the survey, the calculator benchmarks your heart disease risk, with “low”, “moderately low”, “moderately high”, and “high” risk levels. The lifestyle choices that contributed to the overall risk factor are then clearly explained. Interestingly, the calculator has no tolerance for any amount of sugary drinks or processed meats, but takes a more refined approach to weighing other diet shortcomings, like not eating enough vegetables or fiber.

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IBM Backs Genetics Firm In Pursuit Of Watson Powered Personalized Medicine Apps

IBM today announced that it has invested an undisclosed sum in a genetics laboratory startup called Pathway Genomics, bringing the company’s funding total to $80 million since its 2008 launch. Pathway Genomics markets a series of targeted genetics tests, such as cancer screenings that look for key chromosome mutations, tests that look for resistance or hypersensitivity to common prescribed medications, and tests that attempt to help consumers with pain management and weight management. Next, the company hopes to bring a new service to its customers, a personalized health information and symptom checking app.

Pathway Genomics is setting out to build a smartphone app that will leverage IBM’s Watson supercomputer to process medical questions posed by its customers. The app will look to both the patient’s genetic profile, as well at a laundry list of other information sources, suggesting that the app will be one of the first to leverage the new health data aggregation services that smartphone manufacturers have been developing, like Apple’s HealthKit. Pathway’s claims that its app will consider electronic medical record data, biometric data consumed from wearable devices, and other information. The app will then feed the user’s question, their genetic profile, and any available medical data into the Watson supercomputer, which will interpret the question, and reference its growing medical database to provide a personalized response.

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Samsung Launches SAMI, Showcases Simband Hardware

Nearly six months after announcing that it would be building a digital health ecosystem, Samsung today unveiled the a working prototype of its newest activity tracker, Simband. The company also formally launched its accompanying health data aggregator service, SAMI. The unveil took place at a Samsung developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday where Samsung VP of digital health Ram Fish took the stage to unveil the the device and announce the immediate availability of the SAMI software developer kit for third party programmers.

Samsung Launches SAMI, Showcases Simband Hardware

Samsung is building its digital health ecosystem by following what is now becoming the industry standard strategy: build a fitness tracker with consumer appeal and connect it to a health data aggregator service that has APIs for third party developers. This model was pioneered by Apple when it launched the Apple Watch and HealthKit, and was subsequently repeated by Google, Microsoft, and Samsung.

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Singularity-Launched Startup Sentrian Raises $12 Million In Funding

San Diego-based digital health startup Sentrian announces that it has raised a $4 million seed round and a concurrent $8 million Series A round, led by Reed Elsevier Ventures, Frost Data Capital, and TELUS Ventures. The company traces its roots back to a Singularity University executive seminar that founder Jack Kreindler, MD, attended, discussing the need for new disruptive technologies that could address the cost of unnecessary hospitalizations. Kreindler came to the conference with some experience in this area, as the CEO of the Center for Health and Human Performance in London, UK. At CHHP, Kreindler built a private health network that pairs clinical specialists with preventative practitioners to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations as much as possible for his patients.

Singularity-Launched Startup Sentrian Raises $12 Million In Funding

Now, two years after setting out to build the company, Sentrian launched on the main stage at Singularity during its Exponential Medicine Conference. CEO and co-founder Dean Sawyer said during the launch, "Millions of unnecessary hospitalizations that endanger patients and cost tens of billions of dollars every year could be avoided if we could spot deterioration in patients’ health earlier using remote patient monitoring analytics. Our platform leverages the exponential growth in biosensors and machine-learning and is intended to detect the subtle signs that warn of an impending problem before the patient becomes acute and requires hospitalization."  

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