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Alzheimer's-focused startup Rippl raises $32M following hopeful study

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Dementia-focused mental health company Rippl catapulted out of stealth with $32 million in seed funding.

Why it matters: Rippl couldn't have timed it better if it tried: it debuts one day after an investigational Alzheimer's treatment offered what experts are calling the most encouraging findings to date.

Driving the news: The investigational treatment from Biogen and Eisai, called lecanemab, significantly slowed participants' rate of cognitive decline in a clinical trial.

Deal details: ARCH Venture Partners and General Catalyst led the round for Seattle-based Rippl.

  • GV, F-Prime Capital and Mass General Brigham Ventures joined.

How it works: Rippl, which offers therapy, medication management and remote monitoring, says its services will be offered by health plans and include 24/7 virtual care and support.

  • The company is using the seed funding to hire clinicians, develop its tech and open a Washington state-based clinical support center to launch pilot programs in two areas, starting in Seattle. 

State of play: There's been interest among venture capitalists in elder-focused care companies for about a decade, but most tackle the space through the lens of primary care, social support or nursing tech rather than age-related psychological decline. For example...

  • Lifespark, a tech-powered startup looking to reinvent senior care, is seeking $50 million in growth equity funding, sources told Axios last week.
  • Fair Square Medicare, a senior insurance navigation platform, in August garnered $15 million in Series A funding.
  • Sage, a startup hoping to replace nurse call systems at senior living facilities, in July notched $9 million in seed funding.
  • Honor, a provider of elder home care services, pulled in $70 million in Series E funding and $300 million in debt financing last October.
  • Papa, a Miami-based startup that pairs older adults and families with trained companions, raised $150 million in Series D funding last November.

By the numbers: Alzheimer’s is projected to cost the U.S. $321 billion this year including $206 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments, per the Alzheimer's Association.

  • An estimated 6 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer's, and an estimated 11 million more are providing unpaid care, according to the association.

What they're saying: Robert Nelsen, Rippl co-founder and ARCH managing director, said in a statement the company plans to tackle the issue of elder mental decline by centering clinicians.

  • "We have a shared drive to redefine what a health care company looks like, and that's by putting clinicians at the center of every decision we make," Nelsen said.
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