Rock Health Backs Smoking Cessation Startup Chrono Therapeutics

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Under its new business model as an early stage digital health investor, rather than purely an accelerator, Rock Health has invested $100,000 in smoking cessation startup Chrono Therapeutics. The new funding is a drop in the bucket for Chrono, which just closed a $32 million Series A this summer co-led by Canaan Partners and 5AM Ventures. However, startups have a history of pursuing Rock Health investments to gain access to its network of strategic mentors, and less for the actual capital infusion.

Chrono Therapeutics is building a smoking cessation platform and is using every facet of digital health to maximize the chances of success. The entire platform is centered around a wearable medical device that looks like a watch or an activity tracker. The device delivers nicotine to the wearer at key points throughout the day, strategically timed to mirror individual craving patterns and preempt them with nicotine. Researchers behind the startup suspect that by bringing a fully-automated nicotine delivery system to market, they can disrupt the nicotine gum and patch markets while also delivering a fundamentally more effective solution to smokers. The device has yet to prove itself in clinical trials, and FDA clearance is still years away, but Chrono hopes to have its smoking cessation wearable approved for sales and on shelves by 2017.

Supplementing the device is a smoking cessation app that syncs with the device and provides personal coaching and support throughout the day. The app provides real-time support based on the timing of actual cravings being experienced by the user. The app also tracks total nicotine administrations over a 10-week period, gradually weaning users down from the starting rate, similar to a nicotine patch, but with smaller and more gradual dose adjustments. Founder Guy DiPierro explains, “We have developed a unique approach to the very difficult problem of helping smokers quit their life-threatening habits. We believe that the blend of a well understood active drug compound in nicotine with a programmable, wearable delivery system that takes into account a person’s habits as well as physiological patterns that each contribute to cravings has the potential to help more smokers quit once and for all.”


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