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AstraZeneca is taking in a start-up that helps doctors

AstraZeneca is taking in a start-up that helps doctors

March 24, 2022: -On Wednesday, AstraZeneca said it has invested in Huma, a U.K.-based medical technology start-up, as part of a broader commercial tie-up between the two firms.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the British pharmaceuticals giant has taken a roughly £25 million ($33 million) stake in Huma. The person preferred to remain anonymous, which discusses commercially sensitive information.

As part of the deal, Huma is going to acquire AMAZE, a disease management platform developed by AstraZeneca for asthma and heart failure patients, the person said.

“AstraZeneca will become a shareholder of Huma continuing its mission to build strategic partnerships across the healthcare ecosystem,” a spokesperson told CNBC.

“We will collaborate to scale AMAZE across multiple projects driving our shared ambition to improve clinical outcomes through digital health solutions that bridge the gap between patients, clinicians, and researchers.”

Huma develops applications that let doctors remotely monitor a patient’s symptoms and vital signs. It also collects health data using smartphones, wearables, and other devices to help clinicians conduct medical research which involves patients.

AstraZeneca works with Huma on carrying out clinical trials virtually by using the company’s technology. Huma is aiming to become the “extended digital health arm” of AstraZeneca, CEO and co-founder Dan Vahdat told CNBC with its new partnership.

“On the research side, digital tools are becoming the standard,” Vahdat said. “We are well-positioned with the network of patients we already have and the simplicity of our technology.”

Vahdat said the progress of Huma’s virtual clinical trials was “accelerated” by the coronavirus pandemic. He is believing that the technology has the potential to cut the cost and time involved in completing drug trials dramatically. Whereas it would typically take 12 years and cost around $1.5 billion to get a drug clinically approved, virtual problems can reduce that by two years and “a few $100 million,” he said.

The move helps Huma pursue expansion in the U.S., where AstraZeneca has partnerships with the Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford University, Vahdat said.

It marks a rare start-up investment for AstraZeneca that, alongside Pfizer and Moderna, is one of the manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines globally.

On Wednesday, Karan Arora, AstraZeneca’s chief commercial digital officer, said the tie-up marked “a first for AstraZeneca in the digital space.”

“With Huma, we accelerate AstraZeneca’s ambition to achieve earlier diagnosis and treatment for patients with chronic diseases to lead better, more fulfilling lives,” Arora said.

Founded in 2011 as Medopad, Huma has raised more than $200 million in venture capital funding from investors including Bayer, Samsung, and Sony.

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AstraZeneca is taking in a start-up that helps doctors