Venture fund targets type 1 diabetes
- Bain Capital Managing Director Sean Doherty is leading an effort to channel investment dollars into companies focused on type 1 diabetes, Axios reported. Since launching in 2015, the venture philanthropy fund has raised $50 million and backed six firms.
- The fund is comprised of $32 million from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and charitable donations from wealthy families. Any investment profits are reinvested in the fund, with the aim of raising $80 million in principal capital.
- An affiliate of JDRF, the fund has an independent investment committee led by Jonathan Behr, formerly with Partners Healthcare Innovation. Doherty is chairman.
Diabetes is a major health problem and the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes. The data, from 2015, show 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, with diabetes and another 84.1 million with prediabetes — many unaware they had the disease or were at risk becoming diabetic.
The CDC report also shows higher rates of diabetes among Native Americans, blacks and Hispanics, people with less than a high school education, men versus women, and people living in the southern and Appalachian regions of the country.
While a lot of venture funding has targeted type 2 diabetes, not much has been raised for companies attempting to tackle type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder.
Omada Health, for example, offers online and mobile phone-based support and digital tracking tools to help people manage their type 2 diabetes. San Francisco-based Virta is also vying for space in the type 2 diabetes market with an online specialty medical clinic.
Tech giants are also getting into the mix. Alphabet’s life sciences unit, Verily, and French drugmaker Sanofi launched a joint venture called Onduo to create diabetes management tools. The effort, which recently raised $500 million, is also focused on type 2 diabetes.
Earlier this month, Roche upped its patient-centered diabetes services game with the purchase of digital diabetes management platform mySugr. The app combines diabetes coaching, therapy management, unlimited test strips, automated data tracking and feedback to help people manage their blood sugar.
It will be interesting to see if the JDRF steps up the pace on efforts to develop treatments and management tools for people living with type 1 diabetes.