July 13, 2020 –
Sepsis and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) are big and silent killers – they are #1 cause of deaths in hospitals and account for over 10M deaths a year. However, while there have been significant advances in applying precision medicine to treat cancer by looking at mutations and applying personalized therapeutics, treatment for sepsis and ARDS care has been stuck where cancer was in the 1980’s: with guessing games and one size fits all treatments. The fact that most of the COVID-19 deaths are a result of Sepsis and ARDS, has brought collective focus on this woeful state of affairs. Moreover, the bundled payments model of Medicare threatens the viability of many hospitals due to the high costs of treating these complications while having bad outcomes.
Enter Jason, Diego, Leo, and Jeff – the founders of Endpoint Health which debuts today. When I first met them in 2018, I was intrigued by the statement that they planned to reinvent a company like Roche to build a new kind of precision medicine company for acute care. They intended to combine the biology-driven therapeutics of companies like Genentech & Amgen, the therapy-targeting diagnostic approach of Foundation Medicine, and the cloud and data leverage of Flatiron Health (3 out of 4 companies acquired by Roche) to provide doctors with the ability to save lives of patients that develop critical illnesses. Endpoint is thus taking many of the precision medicine approaches pioneered in oncology to the fast paced ICU environment where the course of treatment over a few hours can determine life or death.
Most investors are skeptical of healthcare platform companies that are not focused on a specific drug or device. However, Mayfield has a long history of spotting and investing in new categories that create big companies including Genentech, Amgen, Intuitive Surgical, Millennium Pharma and others. Starting about five years ago, we have been making investments across the engineering biology innovation loop, a new way of looking at today’s landscape. This loop lays out how data unleashed by rapid advances in digitizing biology and the development of precision low-cost bioengineering platforms, when paired with cloud and AI advances, enables fast development of applications including new therapeutics and diagnostics. Endpoint is building a true therapeutic platform that embodies the increased innovation velocity of this loop which combines the best of cloud/ML on patient information to guide treatment, advances in next-gen sequencing (NGS) and digitization of biology for its next gen diagnostics, and precision approaches for new therapeutics. They join some of our existing investments including CRISPR pioneer Mammoth Biosciences, single cell sequencing provider Mission Bio, and AI-based hospital operations platform Qventus.
As people-first investors, we respond positively to a bold vision but then wonder if the founders can pull it off. The answer in this case was a resounding yes. This team of repeat founders had known each other for more than a decade – Jason, Leo, and Diego had started GeneWEAVE at the bottom of the great recession and later sold it to Roche where they got valuable experience interacting with their global customers. They are mission oriented, self aware, and frugal, with a collaborative DNA tuned to building an ecosystem of partners. They bring complementary skills – Jason is a great product CEO who is in touch with customer needs; Diego is a deep science guy who has built multidisciplinary research teams from scratch; Leo has led large AI workbench teams to translate research into products; and Jeff is a world-class enterprise-grade software engineer. Together they have ushered products from ideas to FDA approval.
We led their Series A in January 2019, initially housed the team in our offices, and collaborated closely as they evolved their business plan. By leveraging the hospital system leaders in our health innovator network, we have been able to support Endpoint to test and refine their model. These leaders have confirmed the real and urgent need for their platform which helps understand the various forms of the underlying disease, with a framework of precision therapy clinical trials, and a decision guidance system that works fast (hours with sepsis vs months for cancer). As their name Endpoint connotes, they are focused on delivering outcomes to medical professionals who only have minutes or hours to make decisions that can make a significant impact on reducing the #1 cause of deaths in hospitals. We are honored to be their partners on this journey and welcome them to the Mayfield family.
Originally published on LinkedIn.