Building Infrastructure for Healthcare and Life Sciences

Justin Butler

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Mar 21, 2023

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6 MIN

Science is moving faster than the infrastructure used to deliver new modalities at a cost and scale that matters. Eclipse is interested in partnering with founders building healthcare and life science infrastructure solutions.


Learning from the past:

In 1656, a young scientist named Robert Boyle headed a lab that would ultimately deliver tremendous societal impacts – from Boyle’s own fundamental thermodynamics developments to Hooke’s discovery of the “cell.”

It was in Boyle's lab that Christopher Wren completed the first intravenous injection and successful sedation with opium. During this time, unbearable pain was commonplace and sedatives were difficult to manage, not to mention dangerous. Wren’s achievement should have revolutionized healthcare, especially pain management. But Boyle’s lab was solely focused on exploration, invention, and proof-of-concept – not scaling innovations to their full potential. It took 200 years for the infrastructure (the basic syringe and needle system) to be developed, enabling this practice to convert into a common medical procedure. 

Fast-forward an additional 200 years later and we find ourselves in a similar situation. Scientists are developing cutting edge technologies around the world — such as gene-modifying medications, targeted therapies, low cost DNA sequencing, and computer vision for remote care —  and yet, the benefits of these technologies are still reserved for the few who have the financial or geographical fortune to benefit from them. 

Seeking Opportunity for a Stronger Healthcare System

These new modalities give us the chance to meld novel technologies, like automation, software, and supply chain, and bring entirely new classes of healthcare to the world. Eclipse endeavors to bridge the gap between the emergence of new scientific breakthroughs and the infrastructure needed to deliver them at meaningful cost and scale. Providing advanced levels of care by getting the right drug to the right patient, at the right time, and for the right price, is a significant opportunity that should not be overlooked. 

In the coming years, we believe the most groundbreaking innovations will come from healthcare and life science companies seeking to remediate the overwhelming dilemma of outdated infrastructure. As such, Eclipse is prioritizing investment in three core focus areas related to healthcare infrastructure: 

Modernizing Biomanufacturing and the Supply Chain

To truly reinvent the manufacturing and supply chain aspects of pharma, we need to start from the ground up, beginning on the factory floor. The production and distribution of pharmaceuticals needs to be approached similarly to how Tesla handles the production and distribution of their vehicles or TSMC approaches manufacturing semiconductors. Tesla and TSMC’s factories are optimized to create the best product as quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible. The environments that host these production lines are equipped with state-of-the-art technology enhanced for agility and scale. These companies are constantly iterating and developing new technologies to meet market demands. If we were to equip the healthcare and life sciences industries with this kind of industrial environment, the lag between development and market proliferation would narrow dramatically.

A few recent developments exemplify the need for this type of agile approach. In particular, radiopharmaceuticals are proven to significantly improve survival rates for cancer patients who have limited treatment options. However, the introduction of radioactive isotopes into manufacturing and supply chains wreaks havoc on existing processes. Traditional manufacturing methods, quality control, regulatory oversight, and supply chains create friction and costs that prevent patients from receiving these therapies. Nucleus Radiopharma, a company Eclipse built in partnership with the Mayo Clinic, was formed to bring these treatments to the market at a cost, scale, and efficiency, more quickly reaching the many patients currently on waitlists to receive these critical therapies. Nucleus is set to be the first company of its kind, offering clinical operations support, advanced manufacturing capabilities, and supply chain fulfillment from clinical trials to commercial deployment. With the move to employ technology as the vehicle for manufacturing and supply chain, we foresee a future where breakthrough treatments can be tested, approved, and delivered to people in record time.

Another new pharmaceutical modality, cell therapy, is proving curative for certain cancers. Unfortunately, 20% of people on waitlists for these advanced, targeted therapies are dying before having the opportunity to be treated. Eclipse portfolio company Cellares is bringing cost and scale advantages to the cell therapy industry. It has created “The Cell Shuttle”, the first automated and closed end-to-end cell therapy manufacturing platform. This system supports an extensive array of therapy applications, and most importantly, scalability in developing and delivering treatments to the market. Due to the system's agile and highly accurate nature, drug manufacturers can reduce costs by up to 70% compared to an open and manual manufacturing process — all while meeting patient demand.

The Cellares Cell Shuttle

While these two companies are responsible for incredible advancements, there is an urgent need for more innovation in pharmaceutical manufacturing and supply chain. Historically, the industry focused on an oversimplified development and manufacturing approach: make sure the drug is high-quality and safe. While this approach has brought life-changing treatments to the world, we cannot rely on this methodology moving forward to meet the demands of modern scientific advancements. Today's modalities require manufacturing and supply chain to be as innovative as the drugs being developed and agile enough to accommodate the needs of doctors and patients.  

Leveraging data and analytics across the diagnose-treat-monitor ecosystem 

The use of data immediately changed medicine when Henry Plummer and Mabel Root designed the first modern medical record system at Mayo Clinic in the early 1900s. The wide ranging implications for medical care — from drug discovery and development, to early diagnosis, treatment selection, and long term disease management —  established by this system continue to grow today as we see strong opportunities in the ability to both generate new data signals and translate them into novel, actionable insights for the medical community.

Several Eclipse portfolio companies are putting this thesis into action. BrightInsight provides a regulated, secure, and private platform for bridging the connection between patients and providers for digital therapeutics and connected medical devices. Rune Labs is building the world’s first precision medicine platform for neurology, working with partners, such as Medtronic and Apple, to convert data signals into functional data for drug companies and physicians. SafelyYou developed the industry’s leading computer vision-based fall detection for senior living, serving as the basis for a world-class falls management clinical program that is quickly becoming the industry standard.  

StrivePD powered by Rune Labs: Bringing precision neurology to Parkinson’s disease

Novel tools for reading, writing, and editing molecular information 

When Watson and Crick fired up their x-ray for experiments, they could not have fathomed their works would lead to the discovery of DNA — nor the impact they would have on human history. Fifty years later, the developments resulting from this discovery are curing previously fatal diseases. At Eclipse, we are already looking ahead to the next 50 years of the development and advancement of reading, writing, and editing molecular information. Watchmaker Genomics exemplifies this thesis with their novel design, development, and production of DNA and RNA-modifying enzymes which enable high growth applications in genomics, molecular diagnostics, and personalized medicine. The fields of protein sequencing, gene-editing, and DNA-synthesis are still in early innings, especially given their broad applicability to society. The significant opportunity for determining novel signals from molecular information and translating these signals into actionable insights will modernize our healthcare systems and will lead to faster, more accurate diagnoses and solutions. We look forward to supporting entrepreneurs interested in expanding the horizons of these technologies. 

Watchmaker’s next generation sequencing preparation kit

Today’s medical landscape is different than it was eighty years ago — and for good reason. Strides made by the scientific and medical communities have surpassed the concepts introduced by science fiction. From gene-editing to bionic appendages, our ability to change,  improve, and care for the human body is propelling us into a future where our destiny can be altered with the click of a mouse. This rapid step-change in healthcare is a response to the available technology, research, and needs of our modern lifestyles. 

As the medical field evolves, and humankind bears witness to more and more centenarian birthdays, our needs will shift as well. With the rate at which new modalities and solutions are developed, healthcare infrastructure must be ready and flexible enough to change in step. This is only possible if we revolutionize and modernize the physical infrastructure upon which the healthcare industry is so reliant. 

Let’s get to work.

If you're building in the healthcare infrastructure space or want to talk through an idea, please reach out to me: justin@eclipse.vc

Follow Eclipse on LinkedIn for the latest on the Industrial Evolution.

Tags

  • Biomanufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Healthcare Infrastructure
  • Infrastructure
  • Life Sciences
  • Supply Chain
  • Thesis

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