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Serena Williams-backed medical provider raises US$12m to expand ‘tech-enabled’ healthcare model

The round was co-led by Serena Williams and NEXT VENTURES’ Julian Eison

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The US provider Juno Medical has secured US$12m in funding to roll out its “tech-enabled” healthcare model across the US.

Juno’s services cover pediatrics, gynecology, adult primary care, same-day care, virtual care, labs, imaging and wellness services.

The financing will support the development of its technology platform and expansion into new markets, including Atlanta, Georgia, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles, California.

The Series A round was co-led by Serena Williams, managing partner at Serena Ventures and Julian Eison, managing partner at NEXT VENTURES.

Other participants included Vast Ventures, Empire State Development’s New York Ventures, TXV Partners, Genius Guild, Gaingels and previous investors Atento Capital and Humbition.

Dr Akili Hinson, founder and CEO, said: “Juno’s vision is to reimagine the future of healthcare by finally making exceptional, family-centered care accessible and affordable for the 99 per cent all across the United States.

“We’ve designed healthcare that people love by providing the highest quality care and incredible service in a beautiful environment that feels like a place to belong—all powered by modern technology.

“We are honoured by the support of the thousands of patients who have trusted us with their care and our investors who believe in us — we could not be more excited to bring Juno to more neighbourhoods and communities all across the country.”

“We are honoured to partner with Juno to expand upon their inclusive, full-service healthcare home model where people from all backgrounds feel seen, heard and welcome,” said Serena Williams, managing partner of Serena Ventures.

“There is a serious need to address equity issues in healthcare, mental health and wellness services that many communities face. Juno and its talented team have the vision, model and track record to disrupt the unacceptable status quo in healthcare.”

Julian Eison, managing partner of NEXT VENTURES, said: “It brings joy to my heart knowing Juno is on a mission to bring exceptional healthcare to cities and developing areas of our nation where suboptimal care, facilities, and services have been tolerated out of necessity for way too long.

“I believe Juno’s hybrid approach leveraging brick and mortar clinics paired with digital access is an enduring model that will serve as the fundamental basis to build community trust and outcomes to match.

“It’s an honour to have partnered with such an esteemed team, attacking one of the largest problems of our time,” he added.

Juno’s approach and presence in underserved communities is part of the solution to a growing challenge of healthcare disparities that exist across the US, said the founding physicians.

A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation outlined race-based disparities in maternal and infant health and mortality.

The markets in which Juno will expand have their own unique health care challenges. Atlanta Medical Center closed its doors in November, leaving an already-strained healthcare system with one less option and exacerbating concerns about the future of safety net hospitals in the region and state.

In North Tulsa, where Juno’s clinic will be located, residents have a life expectancy 13 years shorter than their neighbours in South Tulsa.

Hope Knight, president, CEO and commissioner of Empire State Development, said: “Empire State Development’s New York Ventures exists to partner with promising start-ups that are working to solve the world’s most important challenges, and we are proud to support Juno Medical as they strive to provide exceptional healthcare to New Yorkers, especially in areas that are often overlooked or left behind.

“Juno’s success in New York State is a road map for the future and a proven model for delivering quality, affordable healthcare for all.”

Juno’s hybrid model offers in-person and virtual care, including an app that allows patients to make appointments, manage care information and connect with their care team.

The healthcare provider aims to open new clinics in the historic yet overlooked neighbourhoods of East Atlanta, Greenwood (Tulsa), and Inglewood (Los Angeles).

The funding is also hoped to support the expansion of the company’s technology platform for both patients and healthcare providers.

 

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Labcorp launches screening test to identify preeclampsia risk sooner

The new screening tool is capable of assessing the risk of preeclampsia sooner, the test maker says

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Labcorp has launched a screening test that can assess the risk of preeclampsia before 34 weeks of pregnancy.

Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure disorder that can develop during pregnancy or postpartum and is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide.

Roughly one in 25 pregnancies in the US is affected by preeclampsia, which poses an even greater risk for non-Hispanic black women, who experience the condition at a 60 per cent higher rate compared to white women.

In January, Labcorp announced the launch and availability of an FDA-cleared blood test for risk assessment and clinical management of severe preeclampsia during the second and third trimesters.

The first trimester test uses four early pregnancy biomarkers to provide a risk assessment with up to 90 per cent sensitivity, nearly twice the sensitivity of assessing typical maternal history or biophysical factors alone.

According to Labcorp, the test results provide risk identification earlier than traditional symptoms, such as hypertension or protein in the urine, which tend to develop around 20 weeks gestation.

Eleni Tsigas, chief executive officer of the Preeclampsia Foundation, said: “Our organisation celebrates this innovative new test offering.

“Research shows that patients and providers want access to more tools that better predict progression to preeclampsia, especially for those patients with low- to average-risk or those with first-time pregnancies for whom there is some uncertainty.”

Dr Brian Caveney, chief medical and scientific officer at Labcorp, added: “Labcorp is committed to advancing maternal and foetal health through innovative diagnostic and screening solutions.

“This new first trimester blood test is another significant milestone in our mission to improve health and improve lives. By giving healthcare providers another tool to assess preeclampsia risk in their pregnant patients with objective biomarkers, we’re helping to advance prenatal care and improve outcomes for mothers and their babies.”

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People with HIV can be sperm and egg donors

A change in law will allow people with non-transmissible HIV in the UK to donate gametes to partners

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Same-sex couples with non-transmissible HIV will now be able to donate eggs or sperm and become parents.

People with HIV will able to donate their sperm or eggs to their partners, as the law in the UK is updated.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act will be amended via a statutory instrument to allow people with non-transmissible HIV – with a viral load low enough not to pass on – to donate eggs or sperm, known as gametes, as part of fertility treatment to their partners.

Under current rules on IVF, only a male partner with HIV can give their sperm to their female partner and not to anyone else.

The law change will also eliminate extra screening costs for female same-sex couples undertaking reciprocal IVF treatment.

The government says this is part of wider work to improve access to IVF for everyone and ensure same-sex couples have the same rights as a man and woman when trying to conceive.

“These changes will allow more people to fulfil their dream of becoming parents,” said UK health minister, Maria Caulfield.

“We have changed the law to ensure equality for people living with HIV when accessing IVF, allowing them to donate their eggs and sperm.

“In addition, the change will allow female same-sex couples to access IVF with no extra screening costs, the same as heterosexual couples.”

She added: “These changes will help create a fairer system by removing barriers to accessing fertility care as we have set out in the Women’s Health Strategy.”

The changes to the law will allow people with HIV to donate their gametes to family, friends and known recipients.

The regulations include an updated definition of partner donation to enable female same-sex couples wishing to donate eggs to each other to undergo the same testing requirements as heterosexual couples.

Under current rules, female same-sex couples hoping to conceive via reciprocal IVF must first go through screening for syphilis and genetic screening, such as cystic fibrosis, which can cost over £1,000, while heterosexual couples do not need to undergo this screening.

Julia Chain, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said: “The HFEA welcomes the news that legislation regarding partner donation in relation to reciprocal IVF, and gamete donation from those who have HIV with an undetectable viral load, has now been proposed in Parliament.

“Fertility treatment is helping more people than ever to create their family, and everyone undergoing fertility treatment should be treated fairly.

“For known donation from individuals with undetectable HIV, we anticipate that the first clinics may be able to begin to offer this treatment around 3 months following a change in the law.

“We encourage any patients or donors who may be affected by these changes to visit the HFEA website to find out free and impartial information, including about how to choose a fertility clinic.”

Minister for equalities, Stuart Andrew MP, added: “Treatment for HIV has improved significantly, saving countless lives, but the stigma surrounding it persists – a stigma which often prevents people from getting tested and seeking treatment.

“These changes will help to reduce that stigma, making it clear that people with HIV can live full and happy lives. I am delighted by these changes which will enable more people to experience the joy of becoming parents.”

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Portfolia invests total of US$65m into women’s health companies

The platform has invested in 47 femtech start-ups to date

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Trish Costello, founder and CEO of Portfolia

The US venture investing platform Portfolia has announced it has invested a total of US$65m into women’s health companies and solutions.

Portfolia aims to create, educate and support the largest community of women investors in the world.

The company says it was amongst the first to recognise the “immense” potential of women’s wealth, with women’s health at the forefront.

To date, Portfolia has made investments in 112 companies with 47 of those women’s health companies being femtech and active aging specific.

Some of these include Madison Reed, Maven, Everly Health, Bone Health, Veana, Your Choice, Future Family, Willow, Hey Jane, Lighthouse Pharma, L-Nutra and JoyLux.

The total companies Portfolia has invested in are estimated to serve over 102 million customers in 115 countries worldwide.

These companies have a combined value of over US$17bn, with over US$1bn in revenue and 10,000 employees worldwide.

According to Portfolia, almost 70 per cent of these businesses are led by female CEOs, and 49 per cent are led by BIPOC individuals.

“At Portfolia, we believe in the power of activating our wealth for returns and impact,” said Trish Costello, founder and CEO of Portfolia.

“Today, women in the United States have unprecedented access to wealth – with over US$25tn of wealth in the US and almost 50 per cent of it owned by women.

“This wealth is power – power to create financial change and invest in the companies and businesses that matter to us and meet our needs/desires.”

She added: “Our commitment goes beyond traditional venture capital – we’re pioneering change, saving lives, and creating opportunities for all, while creating the most powerful community of women investors globally, and the first to activate our wealth to shape the future of healthcare.”

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