Sanofi has gone online in search of patients for clinical trials, partnering with the social network PatientsLikeMe and a healthcare nonprofit to inform patients about trials and match them with appropriate studies from the French drug giant.
The Fenwick & West analysis of life science venture capital investment in 2012 is a downbeat read. Equity investments dropped 19% and the number of first round financings fell to its lowest level since 1995. But within the gloom the surging growth of one area shines out--digital health.
Venture capital investments in digital health jumped 46% to $1.4 billion last year. The number of deals also shot up by 56%. And 134 digital health companies raised more than $2 million. Digital health--as defined by the group that gathered the data, startup incubator Rock Health--includes a wide range of companies. Although health consumer engagement was the biggest single area of investment--hovering at $237 million last year--Big Data analytics and clinical trial technologies were also represented.
Welcome to the "gamification" of life sciences research, where all you need is an Internet-connected device and a few minutes to play a part in advancing science. It's a growing trend within the open innovation and crowdsourcing movements sweeping the biopharma world. From mind-numbingly simple to technically challenging, the games offer a way to tap the masses in order to solve large and small problems.
The following report includes most of the best-known life sciences games around, with some descriptions of the playing experiences for several of the games.
Read the profiles in our second annual "Top 10 Biotech Techies" report (find last year's list here) and you'll see what this term means to us--people who combine the best of high technology and biotechnology to solve major problems in healthcare.
Influence is a fungible asset.
A lot of cash on hand can help tremendously, of course. But at this stage, who in this business hasn't seen billions incinerated in pursuit of sheer folly? Far more influential is the savvy executive who can marshal experts as well as financial resources in pursuit of a smarter, better, faster way to develop and market important new drugs.
And intelligent research strategies are far more rare than we acknowledge.
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Investors have activated a new "crowdfunding" website for life sciences deals. Dubbed VentureHealth, the website aims to expand the number of deep-pocketed players who are actively investing in medical technology startups as some traditional sources wilt.
IMS Health has made its third cloud-based acquisition in as many months, snapping up mobile sales and marketing systems provider 360 Vantage. The deal continues IMS' whirlwind push into the cloud that has also seen it snag Appature and Semantelli in the past few months.
Belgian biopharma group UCB has partnered with IBM to provide physicians with a predictive tool for use in treating epileptic patients, and the company has worked on expanding its offerings after patents expired on its epilepsy drug Keppra.
The company has raised 1.2 million euros ($1.5 million) to advance its genomics platform, attracting investments from the online payment group Ogone and Foundation Life Sciences Partners, BioInform reported.
Guilin Pharmaceuticals has advanced a system to combat use of fake antimalarial drugs. The Chinese drugmaker has launched an SMS-based system for patients in Africa to check whether their antimalarial meds are the real thing.
An analysis of online data found that only 7.4% of 650 clinical trials for diabetes treatments included patient-reported outcomes, which are supposed to shed light on patients' experiences on the meds.
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