MedTech Venture investing has returned (a bit).

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The past few quarters have been tough for healthcare startups looking to raise money venture capitalbut there may be light at the end of the tunnel – at least for the time being medical devices. In a new report published today, PitchBook notes that there was $3.3 billion in venture capital funding for this sector in the first quarter of 2024, up from $2.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023. If the trend continues, “Medtech VC’s 2024 funding activity could result in the highest average annual deal value since early 2022,” the report said.

PitchBook found late stage deals took up just under half of that investment total, with the largest single deal an increase of $254 million for Freenoom, which develops blood tests for early detection of cancer. However, the report notes that there were few exits in the first quarter “with no major IPOs and only a few acquisitions.” This could change during the rest of this quarter Johnson & Johnsons $13.1 billion acquisition of Shockwave Medicalwhich could be a potential harbinger of future exits.

Billionaire Jim Breyer backs this Health AI startup with a radical approach to data

What if healthcare data didn’t need to be aggregated to be useful? Brigham Hyde has spent a decade trying to collect ever-larger healthcare data sets and sell them to pharmaceutical companies for research. Now he believes the future is federated: running separate queries on data sets where they already exist, rather than merging them all together. He co-founded Atropos Health, which raised a $33 million Series B to tap into 200 million pieces of data to help doctors make decisions based on what happens to patients in the real world.

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Pipeline and deal updates

Women’s Health: Biotech company Gameto, which develops new fertility treatments, raised a Series B funding of $33 million round led by Two Sigma Ventures.

Birth control: Natural Cycles, the Sweden-based startup with an FDA-approved birth control app, has raised a $55 million Series C round led by Lauxera Capital Partners. Point72 Private Investments also participated in the round. About 3 million people worldwide have used the app.

M&A: Merck acquires biotech company EyeBio through a subsidiary for a deal value up to $3 billion. EyeBio develops new treatments for retinal diseases.

Antibody treatment: Johnson & Johnson has entered into a $1.25 billion deal to acquire Numab subsidiary Yellow Jersey Therapeutics, which includes the rights to the antibody drug candidate NM26, which is being developed as a treatment for atopic dermatitis.

Immunotherapy: Gray Wolf Therapeutics, which develops treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, announced this raised a $50 million Series B expansion round.

Air pollution-related deaths from heart disease, obesity and diabetes are increasing

According to the World Heart Report 2024, global death rates from heart disease, diabetes and obesity due to air pollution have risen significantly over the past decade, and emissions from climate change have played a role in exacerbating this. Deaths from heart disease due to air pollution increased by as much as 27% in some places between 2010 and 2019, and nearly 70% of the 4.2 million deaths from outdoor air pollution in 2019 were due to heart disease.

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Other healthcare news

Melinda French Gates will donate $1 billion to address women’s issues around the world, including abortion rights in the US

Eli Lilly will invest $5.3 billion in a new manufacturing site to boost production of the weight loss and diabetes drugs Mounjaro and Zepbound.

Novo Nordisk Slimming injection semaglutide (brand names Ozempic and Wegovy) could also help protect the kidneys, according to new research.

Louisiana is the first state to classify abortion pills as ‘dangerous’ controlled substances.

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