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Exclusive: Rune Labs inputs $12M for Parkinson's data

Illustration of a desk lamp shining down upon a human brain

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Brain data company Rune Labs raised a $12 million Series A extension, CEO Brian Pepin tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Symptom tracking for neurological disorders like Parkinson's may help patients and providers manage the disease more precisely, or even underwrite new drug candidates.

Details: Nexus NeuroTech Ventures led extension, which follows Rune's $22.8 million Series A in 2021.

  • Previous backers Eclipse, DigiTx Partners, Moment Ventures, and TruVenturo GmbH participated, with Nexus NeuroTech CEO Jordi Parramon joining Rune's board of directors.
  • With the funds, Rune is hiring sales people for the care management side of the business and making additional investments in tech and engineering talent.
  • Pepin foresees Rune raising again in roughly Q1 of 2025.

How it works: The San Francisco company offers Parkinson's patients an FDA-cleared software system to collect symptom data, including tremors and dyskinesia (involuntary movements), using measurements collected by users' Apple Watches.

  • Rune Labs partners with therapy developers including BlueRock Therapeutics and Aspen Neuroscience to help track participants' symptoms in clinical trials.
  • More recently, Rune began partnering with health plans including Kaiser Permanente to help coordinate the care of patients with Parkinson's in concert with their existing clinical team, using LLMs to provide services such as coaching and medication adherence.
  • "The goal, ultimately, is to provide on-demand, between-visit care in a way that structurally reduces the burden on the specialists without sacrificing the quality of care," says Pepin.

Flashback: A former senior hardware engineer at sprawling Alphabet life science spinout Verily, Pepin started Rune after realizing such a project wouldn't work within the confines of such a large organization.

What they're saying: "What we really like about Rune is they have this laser focus on one indication: Parkinson's," says Nexus Neurotech CEO Jordi Parramon, whose investment in Rune marks the newly-established firm's first check.

  • "Many other companies in the data space try to have this everything approach, and it's hard to do it right," Parramon adds.

State of play: Several well-funded companies offer clinical trial software to biotech partners, but few are as laser-focused on neurology as Rune. F

  • Reify Health, a Boston-based provider of clinical trials software, last April pulled in $220 million in Series D funding at a $4.8 billion valuation.
  • Macro Trials and Altis Labs, two startups that charge pharmaceutical companies to use their AI-powered streamlining technologies, last June raised a collective $12 million in seed funding.
  • Topography Health in 2022 landed $21.5 million in Series A funding to engage community physicians with its plug-and-play research platform.

What's next: Pepin hopes eventually for Rune "to be one of the earlier companies to create a specialist GPT model delivering care in partnership with a clinical team like at Kaiser."

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