InnovationRx: R-Zero’s Ultraviolet Disinfection; Plus, A Flu-Covid ‘Twindemic’?

innovationrx:-r-zero’s-ultraviolet-disinfection;-plus,-a-flu-covid-‘twindemic’?

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When the pandemic hit, Grant Morgan was baffled by the price tag of hospital-grade ultraviolet light disinfection devices. “That’s a lightbulb on wheels with a timer. There’s no way it costs $100,000 to make,” Morgan, the cofounder and CEO of R-Zero recently told Forbes senior editor Amy Feldman. The Salt Lake City-based company has since raised $170 million in equity funding at a $505 million valuation for its UV-based disinfection hardware combined with sensors and software that provides analytics. It sells to restaurants, hotels and schools for $3,000 to $28,000 depending on the hardware, plus a monthly software subscription that runs $50-250. Now R-Zero is hoping its technology can also help lower the risk of other diseases, including influenza and norovirus. R-Zero is one of 25 startups that Forbes believes has the best chance of reaching a billion-dollar valuation. Read the full list here.

Thanks to Forbes HBCU Scholar Arianna Johnson for her help with this newsletter.


Autism Therapy Startup Blames ‘Unfortunate Bug’ For Misleading Reviews On Its Website

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SoftBank-backed Elemy, valued at $1.15 billion last year, was using the same three parent testimonials – the same quotes and same names with the location changed – across 24 different cities, according to a Forbes review of the Miami-based startup’s website. On Tuesday, after Forbes inquired about the reviews and possible violations of Federal Trade Commission rules that prohibit false, deceptive and misleading testimonials, Elemy removed the references to locations. Read more here.


Deals Of The Week

Ophthalmology: Eyecare company Alcon announced Tuesday that it plans to acquire Aerie Pharmaceuticals in a transaction valued at about $770 million.

AI Funding: Digital diagnostics, which has developed an artificial intelligence tool to detect diabetic retinopathy, raised a $75 million Series B led by KKR. The company has raised $130 million to date.

Ketamine Therapy: Biotech startup Freedom Biosciences emerged from stealth this week with $10.5 million in seed funding led by MBX Capital to advance its ketamine-based treatment for depression, which is currently in clinical trials.


Noteworthy

In a new study, New York University researchers found that psilocybin (also known as “magic mushrooms”) helps drastically curb alcohol addiction when paired with psychotherapy.

A federal judge blocked the Biden Administration’s guidance that required hospitals to perform abortions in a state of emergency in Texas following a lawsuit from the state’s attorney general.. No other states are currently affected by this ruling.

After it was reported that Amazon woulld be joining UnitedHealth and CVS in a bidding war to acquire Signify Health, the home health company’s stock quickly surged.

The newly passed Inflation Reduction Act has extended health insurance subsidies for Helathcare.gov plans for the next three years. They were previously set to expire at the end of this year.

Coronavirus Updates

Since Covid-19 started spreading around the world in the spring of 2022, one thing hasn’t been around as much: the flu, which was brought down to lower levels thanks to things like masking and social distancing. This year, laxer policies may mean that both Covid and the flu will surge during the fall and winter in the United States. This effect is already being seen in Australia, which is at the tail end of its winter.The country is seeing the flu at much higher levels than previous two years, leading to hospitalizations and deaths. This fall, the U.S. might face the same issue – leaving hospitals to deal with a “twindemic.”


Pfizer And BioNTech Ask FDA To Authorize Omicron Covid Booster

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Getty Images

On Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they have asked the FDA to grant an emergency use authorization for their new version of a Covid-19 vaccine that’s been adapted to be specific to the BA.4/BA.5 versions of the Omicron variant. Read more here.

Other Coronavirus News

Dr. Matt Binnicker, a specialist in viral infections, explains why we need updated Covid-19 vaccines.

According to data released Tuesday, Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid vaccine is 73% effective for young children aged six months to four years.

Research found that regular exercise cuts the risk of catching Covid by 11%, the chances of Covid hospitalization by 36% and the risk of Covid-related death by 43%.

On Friday, the FDA okayed the use of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine on youth aged 12 to 17 years old, modifying the company’s existing Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine.

Later this month, the Department of Health and Human Services will meet to discuss plans to shift the burden of payment for Covid vaccines and treatments from the federal government to insurers and patients. Here’s how that might play out.

Across Forbes

TikTok, Hospitals And Tutoring Apps: The Many Tentacles Of Chinese Tech Giant ByteDance

WeWork Cofounder Adam Neumann’s New Real Estate Startup Sounds An Awful Lot Like One He Invested In Two Years Ago

Airlines Are Slashing Tens Of Thousands Of Flights From Their Fall And Winter Schedules

What Else We are Reading

Spate of polio outbreaks worldwide puts scientists on alert (Nature)

‘A golden age’: Long neglected in medicine, rare kidney diseases see a surge in research (Stat)

House investigates Trump’s ‘inappropriate’ pressure on FDA during the pandemic (Endpoints News)

Life Sciences, Forbes – Healthcare

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