Samsung invests in genetics-focused telehealth company as coronavirus rages

Samsung invests in genetics-focused telehealth company as coronavirus rages
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Samsung has made an investment in Genome Medical, a genomics telemedicine company.

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Samsung’s Catalyst Fund is betting that the future of healthcare will have something to do with genomics – especially when the world is fighting genomics Coronavirus pandemic. The fund that is overseen by Samsung Strategy Chief Young’s sonhas made an investment in the San Francisco Bay Area-based Genome Medical, the companies said on Wednesday.

The Series B extension financing raised $ 14 million to help Genome Medical expand its Genomics telemedicine push. In total, the company has raised $ 60 million since its inception in 2016. Other investors are the venture arm of Kaiser Permanente Hospital, Canaan, Illumina Ventures and Echo Health Ventures.

Genome Medical combines telemedicine with genomics to provide more personalized care to patients across the country. Genomics examines a person’s genes and the interaction of these genes with each other and with a person’s environment to determine how they affect the likelihood that a person will develop and then fight diseases such as heart disease and cancer. It also examines how a person responds to certain medications based on their genes, which is called pharmacogenomics.

It is believed that genomics can create new ways to monitor and treat infectious diseases like COVID-19. At the same time, the digital care relieves overburdened hospitals and clinicians who treat the sick with the coronavirus. To date, approximately 10.5 million people have been infected and more than 500,000 people have died. There is still no cure or vaccination to prevent COVID-19.

“In general, medicine is moving fairly slowly,” said Lisa Alderson, CEO and co-founder of Genome Medical, in an interview before announcing the investment. But the “corona virus” served as a catalyst [to go virtual], out of necessity. “

Genome Medical connects patients with genetic experts – digitally. Patients receive telephone or video chats, instructions on how genetic tests work, suitable tests and the actual meaning of the results, as well as help in creating a care plan after the test. The startup plans to use its new funds to expand its technology platform Genome Care Delivery for screening for cancer, reproductive health and pharmacogenomics.

About 10% of cancers are inherited, and about one in four people who undergo reproductive genetic testing are carriers of a genetic disorder, according to Genome Medical. In total, approximately 17% of the U.S. population has disease-related genetic mutations that can be treated or prevented. Health care is increasingly using genetic testing to determine treatment plans. This lowers costs and improves patient outcomes.

One of the best known examples is testing for a BRCA gene mutation that leads to a higher risk of breast cancer. Many women who tested positive, like actress Angelina Jolie, opt for surgery to prevent cancer from developing later.

“The future of health care certainly has genetics and genomics as the cornerstone,” said Alderson. “The vast majority of patients will receive some form of … genetic screening as part of routine medical care in the future.”

A whole new pandemic world

The corona virus has changed a lot in normal life, from grocery shopping to haircuts. One of the largest areas affected is healthcare. Even before COVID-19 came on the globe, people had started to visit their doctors digitally. As people avoid going to hospitals and doctor’s offices, this trend has accelerated. Now we’re “visiting” our doctors on video calls and talking to medical bots to avoid seeing doctors in person.

In 2018, 7 million patients in the U.S. were using some kind of telemedicine service, and that number is expected to only increase. Over half of the U.S. hospitals use some form of telemedicine, in every state, with more than 200 telemedicine networks in the United States alone. In March, the US Federal Communications Commission provided $ 200 million to help healthcare organizations adopt telehealth technologies to combat COVID-19. The FCC said the services would be used to help COVID-19 patients directly and to care for patients with other conditions at risk of contracting the coronavirus if they were to see a healthcare provider in person.

Kaiser Permanente, one of Genome Medical’s investors, said in mid-May that about 80% of its patient visits are now through some form of telehealth, including video visits. The healthcare provider, which has a network of over 12.4 million patients, said that before the coronavirus, only 15% of his appointments were telemedicine. The rest were personal office visits.

“Tele-health used to be a choice and convenience, but now it’s one of the ways that socially distant patients stay healthy,” said Dr. Edward Lee, Chief Information Officer of the Permanent Federation, in May. “The fact that both our doctors and our patients have had the experience of being cared for and cared for via telemedicine has opened their eyes to the possibility of what the future will look like.”

Genome Medical technology provides patients with access to over 50 genetic experts they typically can’t meet, from doctors to genetic counselors. Genome Medical’s genetic specialists care for six areas: cancer, cardiovascular disease, reproductive health, pediatric genetics, pharmacogenomics and proactive health management.

The system makes it easy to order tests and schedule expert follow-up with personalized clinical plans. Part of Genome Medical’s service is to help patients “navigate to the right expert,” said Alderson.

“This is difficult because the genetics are very complex,” she said. “There [are] Many subspecialties and there are very few experts in the country. “There are only about 2,500 geneticists in the United States, she added. Most of these experts have worked in leading academic centers such as Stanford University, a place that is not convenient for people who may need genetic counseling, especially at a time , where much of the country faces the task of staying at home.


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Before the pandemic, patients in need of care from these genomics experts traveled to these centers, Alderson said. The waiting times at the specialists can be weeks or even months. Well, this trip is largely impossible.

“We are moving from this era, when it was highly specialized knowledge and only the most extreme cases related to genetics, to a world where it is part of routine medical practice,” she said.

Samsung invests

At Samsung launched its Catalyst Fund in 2013The company had an investment budget of $ 100 million and a mandate to invest in early-stage companies that focus on components and subsystems. These included companies like Keyssa, which developed a solid-state connection for data transmission with low power consumption and high speed. However, the Catalyst Fund’s investments have expanded beyond pure components to areas such as artificial intelligence, cloud infrastructure, self-driving car technology, security and smart home technology.

Genome Medical is not Samsung’s first health investment. The Catalyst Fund has invested in several other startups, including another genetic healthcare company called Apton Biosystems. Apton has developed a fast, low-cost sequencing platform that aims to “revolutionize the availability and affordability of genetic analysis”.

Samsung declined to say how much it invested in Genome Medical.

“Personalized medicine is the future of care, but too many health systems cannot deliver these critical services,” said Francis Ho, senior vice president and general manager of the Samsung Catalyst Fund, in a press release. “The data and knowledge base created by Genome Medical will stimulate more innovation and help us focus on preventive methods for treating diseases and new diseases.”

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have any questions about an illness or health goals.

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