Issue #57. Friday, May 22
This week we’ll look into the most recent COVID-19 technology developments as well as highlight women’s health, a severely underserved field showing massive growth potential.
I would also like to bring attention to one of my newest podcast episodes where I discuss the promise of at-home diagnostic testing with guest Dirk van den Boom, CEO, and Co-Founder of Juno Diagnostics. Dirk furthermore shares the next phase in bringing high-value medical information to patients and consumers, empowering personal health, and improving the patient-physician relationship.Dirk is a healthcare executive with over twenty years in diagnostics and genetic testing and previously as CEO of Sequenom during the human genome sequencing period, led Sequenom’s acquisition by LabCorp for ~$400M.
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Featured on this episode of the Market Meditations Podcast, Chris Haydel and Neal Mody discuss the promise of at-home diagnostic testing with guest Dirk van den Boom, CEO, and Co-Founder of Juno Diagnostics. Dirk shares his views during the COVID-19 epidemic on the next phase in bringing high-value medical information to patients and consumers, empowering personal health, and improving the patient-physician relationship.Dirk is a healthcare executive with over twenty years in diagnostics and genetic testing and previously as CEO of Sequenom during the human genome sequencing period, led Sequenom’s acquisition by LabCorp for ~$400M.
Empowering the Patient-Physician Relationship: Guest Dirk van den Boom
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COVID-19: Vaccines & Testing, Women’s Health
We have discussed the various vaccine efforts before, and even previous to the pandemic in terms of RNA-based vaccines and cancer immunotherapies. The most advanced vaccine candidate, Moderna’s, is an RNA vaccine. This is a purely synthetic vaccine that can be modulated depending on the gene sequence of the virus. This candidate was one of the first to start human trials and just showed some early results. These are quite promising, but the major caveats are 1). the desired response was seen in 8 patients, not all the participants and 2). the primary objective of this phase was safety, not efficacy. Still, this does show the promise of the overall RNA based approach for quickly creating a vaccine candidate in response to a new pathogen.
On the diagnostic side, there are two follow-ups to technologies we have featured before. Previously, at-home sample collection was halted by the FDA. In particular, Everlywell’s offering was blocked from selling. This has been reversed and the company’s at-home sample collection is now approved. This means that samples can be taken at home, then sent to a lab for DNA analysis. This can help solve some of the logistical issues of obtaining a patient sample that still exists.
These samples still need to be analyzed with lab-based devices. One of the most publicized is Abott’s rapid DNA amplification test, which uses a single temperature reaction. This type of reaction is much faster than traditional PCR, but has, in the past, had issues with false positives and/or false negatives. There is some data that shows Abbott’s rapid test may have this issue, particularly with false negatives. Further studies are needed to fully validate that the error comes from the test, or perhaps from other sources such as sample preparation and storage.
We will start to bring back deals in the medical device space, as we are still continuing our deal flow and investments on spaces other than COVID-19. The industry seems to be still moving as well; acquisitions are still continuing, particularly in competitive spaces such as with vascular access and catheter devices. These devices might be in even higher demand as some elective surgeries are being rescheduled, and hospital systems are catching up with the backlog. We do frequently look at the vascular space, as it is highly competitive and there is still room for majorly innovative platforms.
Another field that we are keeping an active eye on is women’s health. This is a severely under-served field, yet is showing massive growth due to higher awareness of the issue. There are still acquisitions and purchases in this space, sometimes of entire business units. Many devices and technologies in this space are decades, if not hundreds of years out of date. This is a severe oversight but means there is a massive growth potential market for innovative new devices that meet these unmet needs.
What We’re Reading
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The Jerusalem Post
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|The Biweekly Dealflow Update, curated by the team at Zoic Capital.|
COVID-19: Vaccines & Testing, Women’s Health
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