"Precision Medicine" For Treating Dementia
Vivid Genomics is using “precision medicine” to improve the treatment of dementia.
Using patent-pending technology, this company is developing genetic tests designed to improve the efficacy of clinical trials.
Vivid Genomics has received Letters of Intent from multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Roche and Cassava Sciences. Furthermore, its initial tests have indicated strong predictive performance for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.
The company is raising capital to continue development of its tests and move toward its goal of commercialization.
(Please note: This particular startup is raising funds from accredited investors only. An accredited investor is someone with a net worth of at least $1 million, or annual income of at least $200,000, or $300,000 with their spouse.)
Notably, Vivid Genomics is a graduate of the JLABS incubator. JLABS is part of Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Division. It provides resources for emerging life sciences companies. According to Labiotech.eu, a website providing news about pharma/biotech companies, “This incubator knows how to get biotechs started.”
Between 2012 and October 2018, more than 430 startups went through this program. And 88% are still in business today.
As for Vivid Genomics, it’s targeting the more than 50 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away. This is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral, and social skills.
Despite the widespread nature of this disease, there are currently no drugs approved by the FDA that cure, delay the onset, or slow the advance of Alzheimer’s.
In fact, drug development for Alzheimer’s is notorious for failure. In the last 20 years, there have been 150 failed trials, and companies have spent $5.5 billion developing potential treatments.
These failures are generally attributed to either incorrect biology and target of the drug, or tests that involve the wrong patients. Research suggests that patient variation can make it difficult to see whether a drug is truly effective or not.
Vivid Genomics is addressing the problem of patient variation. It’s developing genetic tests to predict and quantify this variation. In essence, this form of precision medicine will help companies match the right drug to the right patient.
Vivid Genomics’ test is called GenomicBiopsy.
Using biological data, clinical data, and matched genetic data, Vivid applies machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to identify combinations of genetics that predict important characteristics and variation.
The key to these tests is the data that’s collected. Vivid Genomics has compiled the largest data set by a commercial company. Sources include its own generated genomic data, collaborations with private institutions, restricted access data, and publicly available data.
By developing genetic tests, Vivid can help companies identify the right patients for clinical trials. This increases the potential for a successful trial.
Vivid Genomics joined the JLABS incubator in August 2018. That same year, it joined the Ad Astra Accelerator, a program designed to guide life sciences startups.
Since then, Vivid Genomics has received a $100,000 grant from Intermountain Health, and was a finalist for the Xconomy Awards in San Diego.
The company has a pending patent covering its method of characterizing neurodegenerative pathology. And it’s in discussion with two companies for pilot studies, which are expected to commence in 2020.
Vivid Genomics' customers are pharmaceutical companies. In addition to its LOIs, the company has relationships with Biogen, Eli Lilly, and Allector.
Vivid Genomics operates under a contract-based business model. Contracts are determined by trial size and phase. For example, a Phase 1 trial with 80 patients may cost $8,000, while a Phase 2 trial with 375 patients may cost $1.9 million.
Vivid Genomics expects to bring in about $130,000 in revenue in 2020, and $2.4 million in 2021.
Julie has more than a decade of experience in the genetics field.
She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Plant Sciences from the University of Calgary, and then earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago.
From there, she remained at the University of Chicago, and spent seven years as a researcher. She then became a researcher with Leerink Swann, an investment bank.
After that, Julie spent two years as an equity research analyst with Baird, a financial services company. While there, she focused her research on life sciences tools and molecular diagnostics.
She then spent five years with Illumina (Nasdaq: ILMN), a biotech company. She began as a product manager for the company’s Genome Network, then rose to Associate Director of its Complex Disease Market Development Division. While in this role, she was responsible for a $600 million revenue stream.
Julie left Illumina in 2018 to start Vivid Genomics.
Annah began her career as a research assistant at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She investigated the impacts of a preclinical drug to determine its effects on patients, and studied the connection between seizure activity and Alzheimer’s disease.
From there, she entered into a year-long fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, taking part in its Intramural Research Program.
More recently, she worked toward her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University, and joined Vivid Genomics in February 2020.
Annah earned her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt and her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester.
Jared is a recent graduate with a focus on Bioinformatics.
He earned his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Bioinformatics from Loyola University of Chicago. After graduating, he spent time as an emergency medical technician with LifeLine Ambulance.
He joined Vivid Genomics in August 2019.