The world may not yet have the technology to turn back time, but Virta Health is hoping its telehealth platform will do the trick for users with Type 2 diabetes.
And investors appear to agree. Only a few months after raising $65 million in series D funding, the company has closed a series E round totaling $133 million.
Virta's digital platform aims to reverse the progression of diabetes with a two-pronged approach. First, clinicians devise a personalized nutrition plan for each user with a focus on restricting carbohydrates to control blood sugar without medication. The Virta smartphone app provides further information about the plans as well as access to health coaches via instant message and opt-in user discussion forums.
Then, as patients follow their nutrition plans, they log their symptoms and health data in the app—which clinicians can then use to adjust prescription levels in real time, resulting in long-term reductions of chronic high blood sugar.
A 2018 clinical study showed that when the Virta method was used, more than 90% of Type 2 diabetes patients saw their insulin dosage lowered or completely eliminated by the one-year mark, and they lost an average of 12% of their starting body weight in that time.
More recently, clinical results released in March showed the Virta platform kept 97% of prediabetes patients from progressing to Type 2 diabetes over the course of two years. And more than half of those patients completely reversed their prediabetes, meaning they achieved normal blood sugar levels.
The latest investment round was led by Tiger Global and brings Virta’s valuation to $2 billion, nearly double what it was after the close of its series D fundraising this past December.
Virta will use the proceeds to offer its platform to more employers, health plans and government groups. The San Francisco-based startup’s client base currently includes about 100 organizations, with users in every state.
“The norm in diabetes care has been more medications, more weight gain and more suffering. Diabetes reversal changes this,” co-founder and CEO Sami Inkinen said in a statement. “We have shown a path for people to live medication- and diabetes-free, and this investment is about reaching even more people and taking diabetes reversal mainstream.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates a combined 122 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes—comprising about half of the U.S. adult population. In 2017 alone, the cost of diagnosed diabetes cases reached $327 billion; Virta claims its interventions could save payer organizations about $5,000 per patient per year.