More than 380,000 babies are born prematurely in the United States every year. And the first 1,000 days of life are a critical period for a baby’s growth and brain development, especially for preterm infants. Plus maintaining a healthy gut is critical during this period. And the rapid changes in the microbiome during this period makes it challenging for NICU teams to treat infants with a highly personalized level of care.
Astarte Medical, a Yardley, Pennsylvania-based precision medicine company that uses software and predictive analytics to improve premature infant outcomes, announced recently that it raised $5 million in Series A funding. The investors in this round include Viking Global Investors LP, Lunsford Capital, OCA Ventures, Keiretsu Forum MidAtlantic, Keiretsu Capital Fund, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Wing VC, and Next Act Fund. Duane Morris LLP acted as legal counsel to Astarte Medical and advised the company on the transaction.
Following the recent graduating from the Illumina Accelerator, Astarte Medical is going to use the funding to complete the development of its NICUtrition suite of digital tools and diagnostics. These tools support feeding protocols, practice, and decision-making in the neonatal ICU (NICU).
“This funding will bring us one step closer to completing our suite of solutions to support unmet needs in the NICU to drive better preterm infant outcomes such as improved growth and minimized risk of infection,” said Astarte Medical CEO and co-founder Tracy Warren in a statement. “NICU feeding protocols are complex and often tracked manually, causing clinical care teams to spend unnecessary time on documentation. Our first product to market will automate and streamline feeding protocols, enabling doctors and nurses to spend more time with their patients and parents.”
The NICUtrition suite of products also provides comprehensive and proprietary datasets that integrates feeding protocols, microbial profiles, and clinical information. And it also offers actionable information in real time to hospitals and clinical teams — which enables them to standardize care protocols and customize treatment plans by quantifying preterm infant gut health.
“We are thrilled to support Astarte Medical as they develop cutting-edge technology to solve some of the biggest problems for the smallest patients,” added Lunsford Capital chairman and CEO Bruce Lunsford. “With its first solution, the Company is poised to make a difference for not just the preterm babies, but also for clinical teams in NICUs where it will help streamline the workflow and increase efficiencies. Astarte Medical is addressing the needs of a large and underserved market, and we look forward to seeing the Company positively impact the industry, lowering healthcare costs and improving health for generations to come.”
The Astarte Medical is comprised of a passionate management team and world-class advisors in neonatology, microbiome and predictive analytics. Warren and Tammi Jantzen, the company’s founders, have worked together for nearly twenty years as investors and serial entrepreneurs. Together they are applying their business acumen based on the vision of the company’s scientific co-founder Katherine Gregory, PhD, RN. Dr. Gregory — a NICU nurse by background — integrates her clinical experience with translational research focused on preterm infant gut health and nutrition. And she is currently serving as Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Women’s and Newborn Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School.
Recently, Astarte Medical also appointed Eric Heil and Stephen Hanson to its board of directors. Heil is an executive with early stage and venture-backed entrepreneurial experience in healthcare who currently teaches healthcare entrepreneurship at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. And Hanson is a hospital leader who optimized performance for five health systems and four independent hospitals in seven states.