Amgen Ventures, Celegene, Echo Health Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments and Gary Loveman also participated.

Precision healthcare startup GNS lands $23M from Cigna Ventures

By Laura Lovett
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This morning precision medicine company GNS Healthcare announced a $23 million Series D raise. This latest investment round was led by Cigna Ventures with participation from Amgen Ventures, Celegene, Echo Health Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments and Gary Loveman, the former CEO of Caesar and division president of Aetna. 

WHAT THEY DO

The company’s platform, dubbed REFS (Reverse Engineering and Forward Simulation), is able to collect multiple data points — including a patient’s EHR data, lab results, genomic data, and prescription data — and in turn help pinpoint relationships between outcomes and treatment. 

The company employs a type of machine learning known as causal AI, which it says on its webpage can identify the cause of relationships within data.

The company has been working with research organizations for some time. At BIO 2018 Iya Khalil, CCO, EVP and cofounder of GNS Healthcare, said the company has reached out to organizations for their datasets and expertise. 

“For us to be able to apply our algorithms to learn causality means that GNS ... [has to have] partnerships with this foundation which has clinicians and biologists, and itself brings together many clinical centers,” Khalil said.  

The platform is geared towards both biopharma partners and organizations focused on population health. It uses both real world data and clinical trial data to model a patient’s response, according to the webpage. 

In the past the company has worked with payers including The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. The Cambridge, MA-startup also boast a list of pharma clients that includes Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis. 

GNS has gone through funding rounds before. In fact, this new announcement comes roughly four years after GNS Healthcare landed $10 million in funding, and two years after another $6 million round

WHAT IT’S FOR 

While the startup didn’t spell out its exact intentions for the money in the future, it did indicate that it would be working with Cigna and others to continue personalized health iniatives. 

"Cigna is committed to improving the total health and well-being of our customers — and the personalized clinical care interventions that we expect GNS to facilitate will play a huge role in achieving those improvements," Tom Richards, global lead of strategy and business development at Cigna. "GNS aligns with our vision and together we can super-charge our advanced analytics capabilities and provide even deeper, more predictable insights that will further enhance customer access to the highest quality treatment and care, in the preferred and appropriate place, at the right time."

MARKET SNAPSHOT

The predictive analytics space has been a popular field for funders. In February Seattle-based startup KenScimaker of a risk prediction platform for healthcare, raised $22 million.  

Even Silicon Valley giants are looking to the space. Over the winter the US Patent and Trademark Office published a Google patent application that revealed some details on a predictive EHR system. The proposed system can aggregate and store EHRs for a diverse population, while compiling each individual patient’s records into a single chronological document, to help identify at-risk patients and guide treatments. 

This round is also an indicator of where the relatively new Cigna Ventures is putting its money. This funding news comes less than a year after, Cigna launched its investment arm, with $250 million in capital.

ON THE RECORD 

"We are thrilled to have Cigna contribute to our next phase of growth," Colin Hill, chairman and CEO and cofounder of GNS Healthcare, said in a statement. "As one of the largest and most forward-thinking global health services companies, Cigna is the perfect complement to our cadre of leading biopharma companies and health plan partners committed to improving patient outcomes through causal AI and the precision healthcare it enables."