Hayward, California-based Chrono Therapeutics, which is developing a sensor-enabled nicotine patch with a connected app, has raised $47.6 million in Series B financing. The round was led by Kaiser Permanente Ventures and will go towards further development of the company’s digital drug therapy platform.
Chrono Therapeutics’ flagship product, which won’t be ready for consumers until as late as 2019, consists of a transdermal patch embedded with sensors that deliver nicotine when smokers have their strongest cravings. It's a step-down program, designed so users can decrease their dosings over the weeks, and the patch will monitor compliance, working with a companion app that offers personalized behavior change support.
“Our product is different from other smoking cessation programs in that it is timed to each individual to deliver it before they even need it, so that can significantly improve their ability to even prevent cravings at all,” Alan Levy, Chrono Therapeutics’ chairman and CEO told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “The sensor in the device works to increase compliance – which is typically less than 50 percent in such therapies.”
Rather than other patches, which deliver nicotine continuously, Chrono Therapeutics' product delivers it in a pattern of “peaks and troughs” throughout the day to ensure the smoker has more nicotine support when cravings are expected to be strongest.
“The greatest craving is of course right when they wake up in the morning,” Levy said. “A third of smokers grab a cigarette within five minutes of waking up, and three quarters of smokers do within 30 minutes. So they set their wake up time through the app, it will deliver it a few hours before so it doesn’t interfere, and then it is adjusted all day.”
According to the CDC, over forty percent of smokers try to quit each year, but many don’t succeed. Liz Rockett, who is director of Kaiser Permanente Ventures and will join Chrono Therapeutics’ board, said the platform is a promising solution to that problem.
“Chrono Therapeutics’ platform has the potential to more effectively address nicotine addiction, a leading cause of death and illness around the world and a significant public health challenge,” Rockett said in a statement. “We expect our investment to help Chrono achieve its mission, to dramatically improve tools that help people quit smoking,”
As users interact with the app, it keeps them abreast of their use, and reminds them them to use the platform in real time so it can work up to predictive analytics of each user. It also provides encouragement and reinforcement, giving them guidance during situations where it can be difficult to resist smoking, such as during social events or after eating.
The company has been working on the product since 2014. Last year, they received their second grant from the National Cancer Insitute. In the next few months, Chrono Therapeutics will be running more clinical trials of the product and expect to file for FDA clearance in 2018. The product will be over the counter, and regulated as such, but people will be able to get it through various pharmacy channels and as part of employer-provided benefits. The projected cost is to be around $500 for a 10-week program, but users won’t necessarily have to buy the whole program at once.
“We’re looking at multiple different payment models, allowing users to tailor their program and refill cartridges as they go,” Jenny Hapgood, Chrono Therapeutics’ vice president of product management and marketing, said in an interview. “We’re thinking about an online subscription model, and we know that the ACA covers smoking cessation therapies, so those who are employed can explore that.”
The company is also exploring several relationships with payers and providers, including Kaiser Permanente, which Levy said had a “high level of interest.”
Smoking cessation is just one of the applications Chrono Therapeutics believes the platform can offer. Timed delivery of medication may pose a solution to opioid addiction and pain management, and the company also referenced some anecdotal research that has indicated it could be useful in managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Levy noted the company’s investors, which included Endeavor Vision, Xeraya Capital, Asahi Kasei, Emergent Medical Partners, Hikma Ventures, Cota Capital Mission Bay Capital, Canaan Partners, 5AM Ventures, Fountain Health Partners, GE Ventures, and the Mayo Clinic.
“It’s a pretty global group of investors because this is a global problem, and it’s an even greater problem outside the United States,” Levy said. “We believe this technology has the potential to really improve the quality of a lot of peoples’ lives.”