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Akili SPAC deal could close soon
Nearly seven months after therapeutic video game maker Akili Interactive announced plans to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, the deal may be on the verge of closing. The shareholders of Social Capital Suvretta Holdings Corp. I, one of several SPACs helmed by former Facebook exec Chamath Palihapitiya, are meeting today to discuss the proposed merger with Akili. It’s possible that Akili could start trading as early as next week if the final vote clears. The deal would yield Akili at least $162 million in proceeds to fuel the launch of EndeavorRx, Akili’s FDA-cleared game for the treatment of childhood ADHD. That number could go as high as $400 million depending on how many of the SPAC’s shareholders decide to withdraw their money.
… And what about a CBT app for ADHD?
Speaking of tech designed to treat attention problems, a new study out in PLOS Digital Health evaluated the usability and feasibility of an app called Inflow, which uses cognitive behavioral therapy to help adults with ADHD manage their symptoms. (Spoiler: It checks those two boxes!) The early stage study doesn’t go down the road of determining whether the app actually delivers results, but apparently a randomized trial is in the offing. Inflow, which already markets the app directly to consumers for $199 a year, announced a $2.3 million seed round earlier this year.
Though most of the app-based digital therapeutics rely on versions of CBT to target anxiety, insomnia, substance use, and many other conditions, Akili’s FDA-cleared treatment for ADHD does not. Per the company, it uses “sensory stimuli and simultaneous motor challenges designed to target areas of the brain that play a key role in attention function.” In choosing to use CBT for its technology, Inflow’s developers are replicating a formula that’s already gained some traction — even if it has yet to prove itself to the health care system or generate any profits.
Federal public health data committee kicks off
A new public health task force housed under the federal government’s health IT umbrella is getting to work on modernizing health data systems. Micky Tripathi, the national coordinator for health IT, outlined task force’s goals this week, which include working with the CDC to update the way public health information is gathered and stored. It’s a step toward ONC’s vision for public health organizations that “can act as one public health community working together to predict, prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats faster and more effectively than ever before,” the agency said Wednesday. The committee is slated to vote in November on its first recommendations, which will then guide ONC’s public health data support for other HHS agencies.
Researcher who helped unravel Theranos pivots to venture capital
Joel Dudley — one of the few researchers who cut through the secrecy and the hype surrounding Theranos — has joined former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s $2 billion venture firm Innovation Endeavors. Dudley, who was previously a researcher at Mount Sinai, helped conduct one of the few published studies on the blood test startup’s products and showed there were problems with its cholesterol readings. He was most recently chief scientific officer at Tempus, which is building technology to answer questions from doctors about cancer care.
“On one hand, I think it’s a good thing that tech VCs are getting into the [biotech] space. It’s needed,” Dudley told our colleague Allison. “But, it is an area that requires quite a bit of expertise. You do see some head-scratching investments that tech investors make.”
Yet another unicorn and more industry news
- Nursing job site Incredible Health raised $80 million in a Series B funding round led by Base10. Kaiser Permanente, which uses the site, also participated. The company said the round tips its’s valuation to $1.65 billion. If somebody wants to explain, complain, or comment on this math, email Mario.
- Virtual care company KeyCare, which is built on Epic’s software, raised $24 million in Series A round with investment from 8VC, LRVHealth, Bold Capital, and Spectrum Health Ventures.
- Zocdoc founder Cyrus Massoumi’s new company, Dr. B, raised $8 million for a telehealth platform for prescribing drugs, which will launch first with Covid-19 antivirals.
- Home care network Honor Technology appointed Andrew Steinberg as its chief financial officer. Steinberg previously was a managing director at Evercore.
- Mental health technology startup Resilience Lab hired Patrick Morselli as chief operating officer, John Hamby as general manager, and Alyssa Lin as head of growth. Morselli previously worked at WeWork. Hamby was executive director for Phoenix Community Alliance and was regional manager of community engagement for Uber. Lin served as director of portfolio strategy for Airbnb Luxe.
- Big Health CEO and co-founder Peter Hames, who has led the digital therapeutics company for 12 years, will step into the role of president. Executive chairman Arun Gupta will be acting CEO.
What we’re reading
- Overdose deaths now top 100,000 a Year. Why do so few people addicted to opioids get treatment that could save them?, MindSite News
- Hearing aids will soon be sold over the counter. Here’s what you need to know, The New York Times
- CT-based company Sema4 to lay off about 250 people, close Branford laboratory, CT Insider