Breakout Labs Introduces Three New Health-Focused Seed Investments


Of all the investment firms pouring money into healthcare, Breakout Labs is undoubtedly one of the most interesting. The company operates as a non-profit grant mill and funds early-stage startups focused on solving massive problems with ideas that are often too risky to attract commercial investments. Breakout Labs was founded in 2012 by Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, and operates as a business unit within the Thiel Foundation.

Anyone can apply for funding from Breakout Labs, and winners are selected through a competitive application process. Funded startups receive up to $350,000 in seed funding, in exchange for equity and royalties. Last week, Breakout Labs introduced three new startups to its growing portfolio.

E3XBio is a Menlo Park, CA startup researching the E3 ubiquitin ligase, a protein that is considered an important, but still inaccessible, target for new drugs. Researchers believe that discovering a drug capable of activating and inhibiting the E3 protein could lead to new drug treatments for cancers, neurodegenerative diseases, and other conditions. The team at E3XBio has created a screening test that makes testing potential drug candidates cheaper and faster.

Co-founder Lori Rafield says, “We are convinced that we’ve discovered a new paradigm for high-throughput screening and are thrilled that Breakout Labs has provided us with the support to develop our proof of concept.”

Ion Dx, another California-based startup, is another startup focused on building new tools to help the pharmaceutical industry. In this case, Ion Dx is working on a prototype that can quantify how active a specific protein is. Not all proteins are equally active, and these subtle variations between proteins affects which ones might make good drug targets.


Neumitra, a Boston-based startup, is building a wrist-worn “biowatch” that actively monitors stress levels by tracking skin conductance, ambient temperature, and motion. Skin conductance is the raw data that Numitra’s algorithms use to identify moments of heightened stress. Activity levels and ambient temperature are used to determine if the heightened stress could be exercise or weather related. The information collected from the watch is pushed to a smartphone or tablet app, where it can be trended and analyzed for potential triggers.

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