Altoida snags Merck KGaA-led $14M funding round for Alzheimer's diagnostic app

They say good things take time, and Altoida seems to have taken that adage to heart.

Nearly three years after unveiling its initial series A fundraising efforts—which totaled $6.3 million at the time—the Washington, D.C.-based startup is still adding to the pile. The series A tally now reaches just over $20 million, Altoida announced this week.

The $14 million top-up came from a mix of old and new investors, co-led by Whitecap Venture Partners and Merck KGaA’s corporate VC arm, M Ventures, which also led the initial tranche of series A financing. Rounding out the group were Hikma Pharmaceuticals’ prolific venture arm as well as HonorHealth, BTOV, Alpana Ventures, Fyrfly and VI Partners.

The newly upsized funding will help Altoida add to its workforce, pay for intellectual property and regulatory filings and continue developing its tech platform to assess neurological function.

“There is a tremendously high unmet need for faster and more accurate methods to detect cognitive changes and diagnose diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Altoida is the leading company developing such digital cognitive assessment technologies, and we continue to be excited about its technology platform and its potential to measure brain health in a more precise and convenient manner,” said Therese Maria Liechtenstein, Ph.D., investment director at M Ventures.

The platform uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality to evaluate brain health, with an eye to helping predict and diagnose Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.

Through an app downloaded to a patient’s own smartphone or tablet, Altoida’s tech first offers up a 10-minute test. A variety of AR-powered exercises measure 11 areas of the brain that have been linked to Alzheimer’s. The video-game-like activities ask users to hide and relocate virtual objects around the room, simulate a fire evacuation and search for virtual items while a sound continuously plays.

From there, Altoida’s AI analyzes the patient’s performance throughout the test. The resulting report highlights symptoms of cognitive decline—such as hand and gait errors, eye tracking, pupil dilation and more—and provides a score of the likelihood that they’ll develop Alzheimer’s within the next year.

That makes the platform the first to rely on both AR and AI to “simulate activities of daily living” and “develop scientifically validated neurological disease diagnostics,” respectively, CEO Travis Bond said in a statement.

The FDA has already thrown its support behind the technology: Last summer, the agency doled out its breakthrough device designation to the platform, signposting its pathway to eventual regulatory clearance.

That vote of confidence followed studies showing Altoida’s tech offers a prognostic accuracy of 94% as well as 91% sensitivity and 82% specificity in predicting Alzheimer’s progression.

Since then, Altoida has teamed up with Ionian University’s Bioinformatics and Human Electrophysiology Laboratory to work on expanding the technology to Parkinson’s disease.

The duo is also collaborating with Japan-based drugmaker Eisai on a five-year clinical trial of the software’s ability to predict and diagnose Alzheimer’s. Eisai is Biogen's partner on the Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm and a follow-up treatment.