Axios Pro: Health Tech Deals

July 27, 2022

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1 big thing: Mable seeds DNA-guided migraine treatment with $3M

An ice pack made from a $100 bill on top of a person's head.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Mable, a genomics-guided migraine treatment startup, raised $3.2 million in seed funding, CEO Roman Rothaermel tells Erin exclusively.

Why it matters: Migraines are considered one of the main causes of disability globally, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yet few health tech interventions besides home-delivered medication are available.

Deal details: Initialized Capital led the seed round with support from First In Ventures, Arkitekt Ventures and Inaki Berenguer.

Context: Other consumer-facing digital health companies offer personalized migraine treatments without genetic testing, while several genomics companies offer migraine-focused genetic testing without personalized treatments.

  • Mable's advantage is in combining the two, says Rothaermel, "We close the loop between genetic testing and making that information actionable."

The intrigue: Scientists still don't fully understand what causes migraines, but research suggests genetics and environmental factors contribute to them — so it remains to be seen how big of an impact genetic testing will have on patient outcomes.

  • Still, Rothaermel says that while there are over 25 drugs that are regularly prescribed for migraines, for many people, genetics interfere with how well many of them work.
  • The migraine treatment market got a shakeup when pharma giant Pfizer acquired Biohaven, which makes leading migraine drug Nurtec, for $11.6 billion in May — signaling a renewed interest in a historically under-looked category.

One fun thing: Rothaermel, who completed his Ph.D. in neuroscience at Oxford, came up with the idea for Mable after watching his fiancée struggle for years with debilitating migraines.

  • "She was given one medication after another, passed from doctor to doctor, and prescribed medications she had to try for months," says Rothaermel. "It can take years to find a medication that works."

How it works: Mable plans to charge users out of pocket for its services, which can then be reimbursed.

  • Those services include an initial assessment followed by a DNA test and physician consult, plus continuous care and follow-ups.
  • Mable's DNA test, which uses whole genome sequencing or WGS, rather than simply testing for common genetic variants or SNPs, looks for biomarkers the FDA has identified as impacting how people process migraine drugs.

What's next: Rothaermel says his goal is for Mable to be available in 41 states by fall.

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