Where We Are Investing Now: Life Sciences, Part 2
My last blog post discussed part of our approach this year to investment in the bioscience and neuroscience aspects of health and happiness. To recognize how broad and extensible this focus is, we call it “Life Sciences.” Last week, I talked about our focus in neuro, bio, VR and AI as each relates to helping individuals achieve greater health, happiness, or both.
This week, I conclude the review of our 2019 Life Sciences investment focus by digging in on two particular aspects: precision health and fem tech.
Throughout time, science has responded to medical challenges with blunt instruments. Does this treatment work for some? Give it to everyone! This drug may help, or it may hurt. Let’s play the odds! The side effects are horrible, but death is worse. Let’s embrace the lesser evil!
Now, though, through breakthroughs in genetics, microbiome science and sensors, medicine has become individualized and specific at last. This arena of precision medicine is one of the most exciting in science. Bringing individuals the best treatment for them, and no other. Elevating effectiveness, and dampening negative impacts.
We see four key areas for precision medicine investing this year:
At-home diagnostic and surveillance devices. Tracking a body issue doesn’t have to end at the doctor’s office or the lab. Issues can be tracked, unobtrusively, at home or wherever a person goes.
Novel bio-sensors. Increasingly, sensors are reaching into the body, or actually reside inside the body, to illuminate critical biological processes and indicate the effectiveness of responses.
Genomic analysis (both germ-line and somatic mutations). Many syndromes derive from errors in genetic transmission. Those transmission errors can set off cascading biological effects that accumulate into disease. Rather than treating those endpoints, medicine is now focusing on the origins. If the transcription errors can be recognized and righted at origin, disease may never occur.
Microbiome. Whole new landscapes of science and human understanding are rare. The new science of the microbiome is one such historic shift. Once ignored, the microbiome---the profusions of symbiotic microbes with our bodies and all other living things—is now seen as potentially the most powerful biological system beyond our genes. Our bacterial mix, it appears, modulates mood, can intercept and end diseases, and may explain a whole host of medical mysteries and failures. We see the microbiome as perhaps the heart of Life Sciences investment. It could be bigger than vaccines.
The other aspect of Life Sciences that stands apart for us this year is new tech focused on women. Our funds have seen the emergence of a forceful worldwide movement of women supporting women in every aspect of being a female on Earth. Nowhere is this truer than in the female aspects of biology, medicine and care. These areas show an energy, diversity of solution, and worldwide market support unmatched among the areas we have analyzed. It could be said, from a Life Science investment point of view, this is the Era of Women.
For these reasons, we will focus on Fem Tech this year, with an emphasis on:
Fertility solutions. Increasing the effectiveness and reducing the cost.
At-home fertility monitoring devices. Precision medicine comes to procreation. Taking the guesswork out of baby-making.
Pregnancy and nursing care. Blending new science, community and AIs to bring each expectant mother the right support at the right moment.
General healthcare. Women’s unique biology is being brought to the fore as never before.
Sexual wellness. No more shame. No more whispers behind the curtain. Women are pushing their sexual needs, issues, and pleasures to the forefront. Scientists and entrepreneurs are getting the message.
Menopause management. Once considered a life sentence, menopause is increasingly being viewed as a new opening. Why does “the change” have to be viewed as a negative?
Communities in support of young women under stress. The world has never seen greater ambient stress. This is most true among the rising generation and nowhere more heavily than in teen and pre-teen young women. Now, deep, consequential online and real world communities are emerging so young women can help one another make it through the night.
We see breakthroughs abounding in Life Sciences and look forward to finding and investing in the best of the new companies transforming individual experience of health and happiness.
By Managing Partner Mike Edelhart