SoftBank mulling $150M investment in siteless trial runner Science 37: report

virtual clinical trials
SoftBank's tech fund has also made biotech investments in Guardant Health and Vir Biotechnology, as well as a $1.1 billion deal with Roivant Sciences. (UCB/Science 37)

SoftBank is considering investing $150 million in the siteless clinical trial company Science 37, which aims to use telemedicine and real-world data collection to bring studies into participants’ homes, according to a report from Recode.

The deal from the Japanese conglomerate’s tech-focused Vision Fund would follow a string of varied, high-profile investments, including $2.25 billion in General Motors’ driverless car initiative Cruise Automation and $300 million earlier this year in the dog-care startup Wag, with its on-demand dogwalker app.

And in August 2017, SoftBank’s Vision Fund agreed to a $1.1 billion investment in Roivant Sciences, allowing it to expand its family of “vant”-named biotech subsidiaries. SoftBank also led a $360 million funding round for tumor DNA-sequencer Guardant Health last year, and 2017 Fierce 15 winner Vir Biotechnology also received some cash.

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The current talks between Science 37 and SoftBank are in the late stages, according to Recode, though neither company would comment officially. Science 37 has also received backing from Amgen, Sanofi and Google Ventures.

RELATED: UCB and Science 37 partner up for virtual, siteless clinical trials

Science 37 recently launched a collaboration with UCB for virtual clinical trials, starting with smartphone evaluations of the drugmaker’s Neupro patch in pediatric restless leg syndrome, in a study required following its adult approval.

“If we pursued this study in the traditional model, it would probably have been impossible to identify and engage patients and their parents appropriately,” Iris Loew-Friedrich, M.D., Ph.D., UCB’s chief medical officer, told FierceBiotech at the time. The company estimated it could take seven or more years to accrue the necessary number of participants through brick-and-mortar clinical sites.

Earlier this year, Novartis deepened its ties with the company, preparing to launch 10 decentralized clinical trials using Science 37’s platforms. The move adds studies in dermatology, neuroscience and cancer to previous studies in cluster headache, acne and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.