#47 🍩 What the Health - A VC fund buys a hospital, Elon puts brain implants in humans & we're all eating millions of microplastics
Your health tech & innovation TL;DR roundup
Welcome back friends!
I missed you 💜
And finally, being a health nerd is officially… trending too?
(Apparently its mainstream cool now? Yay team!)
Anyway, there’s a lot to get through since we last saw you. So we’ll save trends and predictions for another time so not to bore you.
But, first… Sydney!
Since genomics and personalised healthcare are no doubt the future, we thought we’d nerd out with the best of the biz and take a squizz at what’s really going on…
Join us and a panel of actual experts for🧬🔐 Unlocking the future of genomics in real life ft. smart speakers, and a classic WTH bevs & bants
📅 Wed 21 Feb
⏰ 5:30 pm - 8 pm
📍 Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney
🥂 Bevs & bites
Spots strictly limited - so make sure you rego below if you’re keen yo 😊💃👇
Ok, let’s get into it…
New here? Welcome friend! 😊 Want to receive the latest health happenings with our crew of >6706 health innovation-loving legends? Join us!
📖 The State of Australian Startup Funding Report 2023 dropped (and so did funding), with $3.5b invested into startups in 2023
I had a silly quote amongst a bunch of smart people
In real news…
📱 Sonder raised a $16m Series B extension for their work wellness app that combining safety support, medical advice and mental health care
💵 Eucalyptus plans to sell $8m worth of its shares to an undisclosed overseas investor, and benefit long-term employees
👂 SoundSmiles, a hearing and mental health app for Aboriginal children snagged ~$1.5m from WA’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund
🥜 2 startups offering peanut allergy treatments snagged solid sums:
Aravax closed a US$42m Series B funding round for their monthly injection
Prota Therapeutics nabbed $32m in a Series A1 round for itsnovel oral immunotherapy
🔮 The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) put $3.25m into 4 digital health startups:
Baymatob: a wearable monitor for pregnant women using AI to analyse risks of birth complications
Macujet: uses AI with eye scans for early detection of preventable vision loss
Neurotologix: remote assessments of dizziness and vertigo with a portable device
WeGuide: allows companies to create digital health apps 10x faster and cheaper
📈 VIC’s startup ecosytem has supposedly grown in value to >$100b, with healthtech and biotech the most funded sub-sectors in 2023
💰 The gov looks to be planning on tightening the criteria for qualifying as a ‘sophisticated investor’ (TLDR; you can invest in startups) - which could seriously cook the startup ecosystem
Currently you need $2.5m in net assets or to earn >$250k gross income to meet the threshold, but this may change to ~$4.5m and a gross income test of >$450k
🧂 Eucalyptus is making their own version of Ozempic at Australian compounding pharmacies (and a few folk ain’t happy)
The TGA issued a warning over the “unapproved” sodium-based semaglutide, but are doing little to investigate concerns as the “practice falls outside its jurisdiction”
👶 The first baby born in Aus via uterus transplant joined the world in December
💊 A Melbourne clinic, Clarion Clinic, is the first to be prescribing psychedelics to treat PTSD and depression
🏡 Silverchain (an in-home aged care provider) is offering at-home pathology testing with Australian Clinical Labs
🕵️♂️ The Medibank hacker has been found and revealed
🔥 Brett Sutton was awarded an Order of Australia for service to the people of Vic
💩 Curtin & LifeBlood have joined forces to develop faecal transplant pills
💼 Medibank plans to increase its ownership of MyHealth from 33.3% of to 66.66%, making them the controlling shareholder in the GP clinics chain
👩🏻💼 Silvia Pfeiffer stepped down as the CEO of Coviu after a decade at the telehealth company
🤝 Sonic Healthcare is acquiring PathologyWatch, a Utah-based medtech provider for US$150m in a strategic move aiming to accelerate its transition to digital pathology services
🌏 Foreign Docs have to pay up to $56k and face delays of up to 135 weeks to gain approval to work in Australia
🎓 USyd opened Aus's first total body PET scanner for open access research
👩 A Government Inquiry into Women’s Pain has been announced after a survey of VIC’s women’s health showed that many womens pain is real and often ignored. Leading to adverse outcomes, unnecessary stress and costs…
📚 The independent review panel of the NDIS released a whopping 26 recs and 139 supporting actions in its new report- with the goal to use these as “a guide to renewing the NDIS and getting it back on track to deliver a more inclusive Australia”
🗞️ The Minister for Industry and Science released an interim report on the safe and responsible use of AI, which has been criticised as being “a little light and a little late”
🎂 Medicare turned 40, and Albo celebrated by making cuts (just cake this time)
Whilst we’re stupid lucky - is it time for an old dog to learn new tricks? (spoiler - hard yes)
A health economist reckons Medicare needs 3 major reforms: making GP care more affordable, addressing the cost of diagnostics, and covering dental care
US & Beyond the Borders
🧠 Neuralink, Elon’s company, implanted its first device in a live human’s brain
😴 Samsung also hosted a Sleep Rave ft. dancing to a live DJ, a healthy wind down the a good eight hours of sleep (tracked by the Watch6 in a great marketing ploy of course)
🚀 Lykos Therapeutics raised >US$100m to fund the final stages of its application to bring regulated MDMA therapy to the US
🌡️ Google Health has launched the first FDA-granted body temperature app for smartphones
🛒 Amazon partnered with Omada and launched a chronic condition management portal to connect users searching for related health devices with services
📉 23 and Me, one of the digital health genomics darlings, continues to fall from grace with its valuation crashing 96% from its peak
Its now worth just US$345m vs its peak valuation of ~US$6 billion
🪂 The NHS is launching a service delivering medical supplies via drone
🧠 An American neurosurgeon appears to be pioneering treatments for Alzheimer’s and addiction using ultrasound
🚽 The CES 2024 tech show in Vegas showcased next level gadgets like selfie mirrors that can predict the risk of heart attack, a toilet seat that can measure heart rate and blood oxygenation, and a whole bunch of wearables
💻 Motif Neurotech raised US$19m to develop a brain implant to treat depression
💹 Novo Nordisk hit $500b in market value due to the crazy strong demand for Ozempic and Wegovy
💉 Eli Lilly launched direct to consumer weight loss prescriptions, a move that could threatens GLP-1 prescribing digital platforms
💪 The global wellness market is now worth US$5.6T, 14% more than pre-pandemic… with no signs of slowing down soon
🐭 Disney’s Imagineering unveiled the HoloTile floor which is supposedly the world's first “multi-person, omnidirectional, modular, expandable, treadmill floor” - and could be a game changer for the elderly and those in rehab
🚗 Uber Health and analytics company Socially Determined are collabing to help patients with rides to medical appointments and grocery deliveries
🍵 Dr Andrew Huberman acquired yerba mate beverage company Mateína
💊 England Pharmacists can now treat common conditions like UTIs without patients needing to see a GP
🏃♀️ A Chinese company is offering bonuses to workers who run 100kms a month - to help with health, wellbeing and productivity
🧪 Goldman Sachs is jumping into the biotech world after raising US$600m to invest in startups
🧘♂️ f45 is jumping on the pilates bandwagon, launching athletic-style Pilates reformer VAURA in NYC
🛋️ Landais Alzheimer, a unique village in south-west France, houses residents with dementia, providing a supportive community where daily tasks, activities, and social interactions are tailored to their needs
🍭 Breakthrough Aussie diabetes study helps pancreatic cells to make insulin
The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute found a potential new treatment for type 1 diabetes, using existing cancer drugs that could eventually replace the need for regular insulin injections.
🍤 New study finds microplastics in 88% of protein sources (ie - we’re all eating them ALL the time)
Researchers sampled seafood, pork, beef, chicken, tofu, and 3 different plant-based meat alternatives, finding microplastics in almost every product. Estimating American adults could be consuming up to 3.8m microplastics per year from protein alone.
🆎 A blood test to detect cancer?
Researchers designed a test analysing proteins in the blood that can pick up 18 early stage cancers, representing all main organs in the human body. This could re-shape screening guidelines, making this plasma test a standard part of routine check-ups.
🏋️ Long COVID causes changes in the body that make exercise debilitating
Many people with long COVID feel tired, unwell and in pain for lengthy periods after exercise, and researchers now reckon they now know why with supposed evidence that biological changes are to blame, such as severe muscle damage, mitochondrial problems and the presence of microclots in the body.
📜 Fake scientific papers reach crisis point
Last year the annual number of papers retracted by research journals topped 10,000 for the first time. The products of paper mills often look like regular articles but are based on templates in which names of genes or diseases are slotted in at random among fictitious tables and figures. Sometimes, journal editors have been bribed to accept articles.
🤖 AI Updates…
🍄 Alphafold, the Google protein-structure prediction tool, has identified hundreds of thousands of potential new psychedelics
💯 The Medical Futurist has created a list of the 100 most exciting digital health and AI companies of 2024
🔬 CSIRO used AI to discover two new genetic variants for Alzheimer’s
💬 AI can diagnose depression better than a doctor and tell you which treatment is best (At least, thats what one study says). ChatGPT may be more likely to follow clinical guidelines, whereas GPs may have a tendency to overprescribe antidepressants.
📊 Google published new research on their Articulate Medical Intelligence Explorer (AMIE) model (a research AI system based on a LLM and optimized for diagnostic reasoning and conversations.) And it outperformed physicians on diagnostic accuracy and empathy
🧾 The Vice prez of Bessemer Ventures wrote on how current payment models are hindering healthcare AI adoption
✂️ Nuance Communications is being used in more than 150 hospitals to draft clinical notes and has cut time spent on clinical documentation by 50%
🩺 An AI powered stethoscope designed by Mayo Clinic spin-off Eko, is being hailed as a game-changer in the rapid diagnosis of heart conditions - being cheap to deploy at scale, giving instant results and helping prioritise and triage patients
👧 Boston Children’s Hospital collabed with OpenAI to become one of the first users of ChatGPT Team, allowing for customisation of generative AI tools
Startup Stuff 🚀
Startup focused on improving health outcomes?
LuminaX Healthtech Accelerator is taking apps. Selected startups will be offered up to $300k investment, $50k in-kind program support, and a network of VC funds and early-stage investors - More here
Looking to drive innovation in digital health and medtech?
CSIRO launched a free 10-week online program to help Australian SMEs learn how to advance their innovative technologies, solutions and ideas through research and development (R&D) - More here
Looking for training in health innovation?
Cicada Innovations’ NSW Health Commercialisation Training Programs are offering specialised courses in Pharma & Therapeutics, Medical Devices, Diagnostics, and SAMD - More here
Own a small business and need some mental health support?
Beyond Blue’s NewAccess for Small Business Owners (NASBO) is a guided self-help mental health coaching program. It’s free, confidential and convenient. Available nationally by phone or video call, no GP referral is required - More here
Female founder based in VIC with a killer idea you want to launch?
Flying Fox Ventures are launching their inaugural pre-accelerator program focused on female founders in Victoria.to take your idea from a shower thought to VC pitch-ready through a 12 week program - Apply here
10th - 24th Feb: Dr Andrew Huberman takes on Aus! The Brain Body Contract
13th - 15th Feb: USyd - Digital Health Week (Syd)
Thu 7th Mar: Virtual Healthcare Summit NSW (Syd)
7th - 8th Mar: Connect Virtual Care (Syd)
9th - 10th Mar: CCIM 2024 Meet Me in the Mediverse (Syd)
Wed 13th Mar: Data & Analytics in Healthcare (Mel)
20th - 21st Mar: Australian Healthcare Week 2024 (Syd)
Consumable Content 💎
👑 Halle Tecco dropped Seven Charts That Sum Up U.S. Healthcare in 2023
🎾 The Australian Open has been keeping the athletes (and us) up late, and ice baths have been helping the players recover from the lack of sleep
⚕️ Pro Medicus, a radiology IT software provider, reached a $100 share price after listing on the ASX in just 2000 at $1.15 per share. Talk about a fun aussie healthtech success story
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