Heart disease is the leading cause of death among people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. That’s why one startup is unveiling new revolutionary capabilities to address the world’s greatest public health epidemic.
Today, New York-based healthtech startup Cleerly announced its launched today with $43 million in Series B funding and unveiled its first-of-its-kind digital care pathway solution for heart attack prevention. The round, which brings Cleerly’s total funding to $54 million, was led by Vensana Capital with participation from LRVHealth, New Leaf Venture Partners, DigiTx Partners, the American College of Cardiology, Cigna Ventures, and existing investors.
Cleerly was founded based on more than a decade of foundational research its team used to develop the proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms that power its revolutionary capabilities. This research was conducted in The Dalio Institute for Cardiovascular Imaging at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine and evolved into the Cleerly technologies.
The research includes large-scale clinical trials with more than 50,000 patients, comprising the most extensive body of coronary imaging research to study how imaging can be used to better understand heart disease and project patient outcomes. Cleerly was founded in 2016 by James Min to translate this advanced imaging science into the company’s pioneering approach for identifying people at risk of heart attacks.
“Advanced imaging has been key to diagnosing and preventing the most common causes of cancer for years, but we’re not using it yet to prevent the most common cause of death. We use 3D mammograms, colonoscopies and lung CT scans to find and prevent breast, colon and lung cancer, but we haven’t had similar capabilities for the world’s number one killer – heart disease,” said James K. Min, MD FACC, and founder and CEO of Cleerly. “Through the application of artificial intelligence that is constantly being refined with our unprecedented volume of accruing and exclusive clinical data, Cleerly is finally bringing heart disease diagnosis and prevention into the twenty-first century.”
Heart attacks are a public health epidemic, accounting for one in every four deaths. However, the causes of heart attacks have been poorly understood and difficult to identify. For example, measuring cholesterol is widely relied upon as an indicator of risk, but there is more than 80% overlap of cholesterol levels for those who will, versus those who will not experience heart attacks. Further, the first symptom of heart disease in more than 50% of individuals diagnosed with coronary artery disease is a heart attack or death.
“We see Cleerly as the future of how coronary artery disease will be evaluated, and we support the company’s mission to tailor a personalized approach to diagnosis, management and treatment, and to validate all of this with world-class clinical evidence of utility and cost-effectiveness,” said Justin Klein, MD, JD, Managing Partner at Vensana Capital. “With Cleerly’s industry-leading technology platform and inherent value propositions, we believe Cleerly is ideally positioned to inform a new standard of care for how we manage coronary artery disease at scale.”
“We are proud to be the partner of choice for companies like Cleerly who share our commitment in breaking boundaries and accelerating innovation to unlock bold, new opportunities that create better health for the people we serve,” said Tom Richards, global lead, strategy and business development at Cigna. “With these digital health partnerships and through our end-to-end care approach, we see significant opportunity to accelerate innovation in cardiovascular disease while improving patient experience, reducing costs and improving outcomes.”