Clinical trial provider TrialSpark is raising $ 156 million to transform itself into a drug company


MedCity News

Spark pioneered technology to help pharmaceutical companies conduct clinical trials faster and more efficiently. Now it joins them. The startup raised $ 156 million to fund its transformation into a pharmaceutical company with its own drug pipeline.

New York-based TrialSpark said the new funding will be used to acquire clinical-stage drugs or to collaborate in their development. The company will support these drug candidates with its in-house clinical trial software.

TrialSpark was launched in 2016 and co-founded by computer biologists Benjamine Liu and Linhao Zhang, formerly Salesforce and Oscar Health. They developed a software platform that integrates the front-end of clinical trials, such as recruitment and electronic consent, with the back-end operations of data management, monitoring and biostatistics. The company says its approach results in faster clinical trials and also makes those trials more diverse and representative of the patient populations for whom the drugs are being developed.

TrialSpark initially served as a supplier to pharmaceutical companies that used the startup’s software to make their studies more efficient. Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi are among the companies using TrialSpark’s technology. Other partners are Versanis Bio and Aditum Bio. One of the young company’s goals was to become a drug developer. TrialSpark was named the winner in the life sciences track of the Pitch Perfect competition at MedCity News’ INVEST Precision Medicine Conference last December. At the time, TrialSpark’s Client Growth Director, Joe Zaccaria, told MedCity News that the company’s founders and investors wanted to develop the company into an integrated pharmaceutical company that brings drugs to market.

“It’s a long-term vision, but we believe the core of it is a better drug development process,” said Zaccaria.

The new capital is a Series C financing round. In addition to acquiring or partnering with drug candidates, TrialSpark aims to invest in biotech companies. TrialSpark did not disclose what therapeutic areas it was interested in for its own pipeline or investments.

The new funding was led by Sam Altman and Lachy Groom. Other participants in TrialSpark’s recent funding include Sequoia Capital, Thrive Capital, Casdin Capital, Dragoneer, Section 32, John Doerr, Spark Capital, Felicis Ventures, Sound Ventures, Arrowmark.

Photo by TrialSpark

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