Online network PatientsLikeMe, which serves as an information, support and study recruitment source for people living with chronic conditions, has secured $100 million in new funding, largely from a new partnership with health data and genomics company iCarbonX. Existing investor Invus also contributed to the funding round, which is still open.
“This partnership is very exciting, as it effectively builds on how we’ve been supporting patients for over 10 years,” PatientsLikeMe CEO Martin Coulter told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “We’ve been tracking the experience of health, disease and care to help patients understand their own data longitudinally, and what this relationship does is bring in additional clinical and biological data planes.”
PatientsLikeMe has increasingly been looking to ways of getting richer data, such as that from sensors and wearables, and is currently involved in a pilot project to collect blood and DNA samples from some of its members. With the iCarbonX partnership, the online organization will have a means of expanding projects involving genetic sequencing.
The partnership is under iCarbonX’s Digital Life Alliance, a consortium of technology and application companies working with iCarbonX to merge biological and patient-generated data with artificial intelligence. The aim is to enhance understanding and insight from the behavioral and environmental factors in life that could possible accelerate or mitigate disease.
Jun Wang, iCarbonX’s founder, will take a minority equity position in PatientsLikeMe and provide various sequencing services for the company.
Wang said his company was drawn to PatientsLikeMe for their “unparalleled track record of engaging and empowering patients,” and the company will in turn serve as the core of the Digital Life Alliance ecosystem.
“The ecosystem we’re creating will connect biology, experience and AI so that we can learn how diseases manifest in the body over time, and how our everyday actions contribute to their progression,” Wang said in a statement. ““PatientsLikeMe pioneered digitizing the patient experience and connecting people online so that everyone learns from shared data. Our partnership moves this to the next level, bringing new data and technology together to help people assess their health status and their options, and manage their digital life in a more complete manner.”
iCarbonX has also partnered with SomaLogic, HealthTell, AOBiome, GALT, Imagu and Robustnique to form the foundation of the Digital Life Alliance, and invested a total of nearly $400 million.
Coulter said the companies met two years prior, when Wang was laying the groundwork to launch iCarbonX and looking for organizations that had capabilities around patient engagement and measuring consumer health.
“He [Wang] is a leading expert in sequencing and genomic research, and he wanted his next venture to digitize life in a way that would really empower consumers,” said Coulter. “We met and found what he was building fell very much in alignment with where we had been and where we were heading, so it became this very logical partnership. The cross-license nature of our agreement is very exciting – we can lean very heavily on him, given his experience in sequencing, and he can lead on us for measuring and continuing to engage people.”