HealthMatch, a clinical trial matching platform, has raised $18 million in fresh capital and earned the backing of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's family to pursue expansion into Asian markets.
The Turnbulls are new investors in the Australian-based healthtech start-up which has a track record of reducing clinical trial recruitment timeframes and the potential to accelerate innovative therapies to standard care sooner.
"Through HealthMatch we have seen entire trials which were taking up to 18 months for recruitment to be completed in one month," says company founder and CEO Manuri Gunawardena (pictured).
"If you look at the follow-on effects of quicker recruitment it means that millions of people can potentially access a life changing treatment years earlier - all through connecting people that are interested in participating in a trial now."
HealthMatch moved to raise capital this year after experiencing a dramatic increase in its user base, which has risen tenfold from 8,000 in June this year to 80,000 at the start of December.
The $18 million capital raising was led by venture capital fund Square Peg, with early backer Tempus Partners also participating in its third investment in the company.
Alongside the Turnbulls, new investors include Singapore's January Capital which joins existing high-profile angels and medical experts invested in HealthMatch.
Lucy Turnbull, former chair of listed biotech Immutep (ASX: IMM), says she is inspired by the potential of HealthMatch to "democratise access for everyone to clinical trials and ultimately accelerate the rate of recruitment for clinical trials".
"Recruitment for clinical trials is often quite a challenge and by removing barriers HealthMatch is helping advance medical research," Lucy Turnbull says.
HealthMatch was founded by Gunawardena in 2017 when she was a medical student with a focus on improving patient recruitment to clinical trials. This is achieved through an online, patient centric platform leveraging sophisticated technology that makes the process of finding, matching and applying for trials easier.
HealthMatch now places more than 2,000 patients a month into clinical trials for treatments ranging from cancer to eczema.
"What has been incredibly rewarding this year, is to not just see thousands of patients sign up and access clinical trials but to see this translate to quicker recruitment outcomes for medical research," says Gunawardena.
"Not only are patients gaining access to potentially revolutionary new treatments, but we are seeing evidence of increasing the speed of the entire drug development process.
"We have a crystal-clear roadmap of how we can continue to deliver on this vision and expand our benefit to patients. We have global ambitions to be a champion for patients in their healthcare journey."
The company is looking to expand into Singapore with plans to bolster its team of 20 to more than 80 over the next year with a focus on engineering and medical expertise.
HealthMatch has already raised more than $25 million since inception.
Tempus Partners has increased its holding in the company due to what is sees as a rapid expansion of the company's activities in partnership with major pharmaceutical companies.
"The phenomenal user growth, significantly reduced recruitment timelines and placement success are proof of Manuri's vision that a patient-centered experience could change the landscape of clinical trials," says Alister Coleman, the managing partner at Tempus.
"In addition to making a positive impact on people's lives, HealthMatch is quickly becoming a lighthouse for the new generation of globally scalable healthtech companies started by ambitious Australian and New Zealand founders."
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