Virta Health brings in $45M for online T2D therapy

By Dave Muoio
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San Francisco-based Virta Health has announced the closing of a $45 million Series B funding round for its digitally-delivered, drug- and surgery-free Type 2 diabetes treatment. Previous investors Venrock, Obvious Ventures, Creandum, Caffeinated Capital, and SciFi VC participated in the round, with new investors including Founders Fund and Playground Global joining as well.

Virta’s approach to reverse diabetes progression is primarily diet based. By focusing on carbohydrate intake and nutritional ketosis — wherein the body burns fat as the primary fuel source rather than glucose — as opposed to medication or surgery, the researchers have learned that an highly individualized approach to diet could lower hemoglobin A1c levels. Patients receive Virta’s intervention through an online platform that combines personalized nutrition, one-on-one coaching, and remote monitoring.

“We have a unique opportunity to define the standard of care for chronic disease treatment and go from ‘care’ to ‘cure,’” Sami Inkinen, Virta co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “This requires substantial investment in machine learning and AI to provide accessible technology tools for both patients and clinicians, in addition to key hires in the product, engineering, data science, and clinical teams.”

Inkinen, who was the cofounder and former president of online real estate company Trulia, founded Virta with UC Davis professor emeritus Dr. Stephen Phinney, who brings 40 years of nutritional biochemistry experience to the company, and Dr. Jeff Volek, an Ohio State professor who has spent 20 years researching the effects of nutrition and physical activity on health. The startup was officially launched last year alongside $37 million in funding.

Virta’s most recent funding announcement comes just a couple months after the release of research data on the intervention. In the open-label, non-randomized, controlled study, researchers from Virta and Indiana University Health Arnett, Lafayette enrolled 262 patients with Type 2 diabetes. At one year, 60 percent of those who received the intervention had their condition reversed, and 94 percent of insulin users had reduced or stopped their usage.

In a statement, the company said that it will be using the new funding to pursue outcome improvements, scale the platform, and invest in its commercial capabilities to court new business partners.

“Virta has created a far better approach to treating Type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Bob Kocher, Virta Board Member and Partner at Venrock, said in a statement. “The Virta Treatment actually reverses the disease rather than delaying complications from ongoing management. This is much better because it eliminates suffering and saves far more money than traditional approaches. We are incredibly excited to be part of this vision.”