Octave Biosciences scores $14M and George Scangos for its board

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While its initial focus will be multiple sclerosis, the Bay Area biotech's platform is designed to guide treatment decisions for patients with neurodegenerative diseases. (Rudy and Peter Skitterians)

Octave Biosciences picked up a pair of industry veterans, George Scangos and Michael Pellini, for its board of directors, as well as a $14 million series A round that will advance its care management technology in multiple sclerosis (MS).

While its initial focus will be multiple sclerosis, the Bay Area biotech's platform is designed to guide treatment decisions for patients with neurodegenerative diseases. The new funding brings Octave's total raised to $16.5 million and will allow the company to finish developing its technology and test its impact in MS. It comes from BCBS Venture Partners, Echo Health Ventures and Section 32—managed by Pellini—and private investors.

Scangos, who leads Vir Biotechnology, stepped down from the CEO post at Biogen in 2016, six years after giving the company a makeover and three years after winning FDA approval for the MS drug Tecfidera. While it was the third MS pill to market, after Novartis' Gilenya and Sanofi's Aubagio, it soon overtook them, becoming the most prescribed oral MS treatment.

There are several disease-modifying treatments for the relapsing-remitting form of MS, but there is no silver bullet. Patients must be monitored to ensure they are getting the most appropriate care.

"Like many chronic diseases, MS historically has been managed through subjective evaluation of signs and symptoms along with periodic MRI scans, which often don’t provide dynamic or real-time insight into the disease,” said Octave CEO William Hagstrom.

This is where Octave's technology will come in.

“[Physicians] can miss important shifts in disease status or co-morbidities between office visits. Octave’s care management solution was designed to start with a measurement system that includes assessing a patient’s biology via select biomarkers tied to inflammatory disease activity and neurodegeneration. This is further complemented by technology to continuously track patients’ symptoms and disease trajectory using sensors and mobile tools. Additionally, we are optimizing MRIs to improve contextualization, quantification and serial changes over time. Each of these capabilities provide high-resolution, 360-degree, longitudinal data streams to integrate into our care platform," Hagstrom said.