Health data company expands in Stamford as demand grows for genetic research and personal medicine

Sema4, a health data research company, announced Thursday it opened a 70,000-square foot building in Stamford with more than 300 workers processing genomic tests, its third site in Connecticut to keep pace with growing demand for data-driven health care.

The Stamford laboratory complements Sema4 1/4 u2032s Branford lab that was expanded earlier this year and its headquarters, also in Stamford.

The new Sema4 lab replaces one in New York City, providing additional capacity to support genomic testing and expand digital health services. With its Stamford and Branford labs, Sema4 will increase its ability to provide health information across several thousand genetically identifiable diseases to patients.

Eric Schadt, founder and chief executive of Sema4, said the new Stamford site will be a hub for research and development for predictive modeling and information-driven testing.

In addition to lab employees, the Stamford facility also has capacity for 100 genetic counselors, bioinformatics specialists and support service staff. Sema4 has more than 500 employees in Connecticut across its two lab facilities and Stamford headquarters. Its workforce has quadrupled over the last three years.

Sema4 also maintains an office in New York City.

The company’s growth reflects rapid advances in personal medicine and genomics, which focuses on sequencing and analyzing an organism’s genome, the DNA content in a cell.

The state announced in 2018 a $6 million loan to Sema4 to move its New York City laboratory to Connecticut and create 400 jobs. “We were kind of busting at the seams,” Schadt said at the time.

In Connecticut, Sema4 is part of an expanding cluster of medical technology companies, such as Arvinas, a New Haven cancer pharmaceutical company, and the Guilford medical device company Butterfly Network.

Stephen Singer can be reached at [email protected]

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©2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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Novartis Expands Presence in Gene Therapy With Acquisition

– By Barry Cohen

Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) is expanding its gene therapy footprint by acquiring a venture capital-backed company focusing on treating vision loss that can lead to blindness.

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant will pay shareholders of Vedere Bio $150 million upfront, which could be boosted by $130 million more if the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company’s programs achieve several development milestones.

Novartis has made huge strides aimed at beefing up its gene therapy program. In 2018, the company bought AveXis for $8.7 billion, inheriting its spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma, and this year established partnerships with Dyno Therapeutics and Sangamo Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:SGMO).

Vedere is trying to take naturally occurring, light-sensing proteins and use a special gene therapy method to inject them into a certain part of the eye. Once there, they will be sent to retinal cells that are still healthy to help improve the vision of patients, according to an article in BioPharma Dive.

Novartis thinks this approach has much broader uses. The company said the proteins, in conjunction with Vedere’s delivery tools, could “vastly expand” the number of treatable patients with vision loss from photoreceptor death.

Investors should keep in mind that the Vedere treatments are still in the pre-clinical stage so a great deal of development still needs to be done. Working with the acquisition’s scientists, Novartis is preparing to promptly begin human testing.

Novartis Expands Presence in Gene Therapy With Acquisition
Novartis Expands Presence in Gene Therapy With Acquisition

There could be an even bigger population the Vedere platform could address, beyond inherited eye disorders. That would be a new way to treat geographic atrophy, one of the more advanced forms of an age-related vision loss called dry age-related macular degeneration. The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes an estimated 15 million people in North America have AMD, the vast majority with the dry form.

Following the close of the deal, Vedere Bio II will operate as a wholly independent entity from Novartis and Vedere Bio.

Novartis decided to get out of one area of the eye-care business when it spun off Alcon Inc. (NYSE:ALC) last year. The company said it wanted to concentrate on treating diseases of the eye, not eye-care products.

Novartis’ eye drugs include Xidra, treating dry eye disease, and Beovu, which was recently approved for the wet form of AMD. Its third eye drug and the biggest producer is Lucentis, which had sales of $515 million in the third quarter. Xidra and Beovu combined to bring in revenue of about $151 million. Novartis’ biggest competitor is the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN) drug Eylea, a multibillion-dollar annual seller.

The Novartis faithful are hoping for better days ahead. At about $90, the company’s shares are pretty much where they were five years ago. On the plus side, its dividend yields nearly 4%.

Despite the stock being stuck in neutral, Wall Street seems to think Novartis is a good investment, with three recent buy ratings and just one hold. Analysts give it an average target price of more than $106, according to

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Coronavirus Testing Expands Across WI

ACROSS WISCONSIN— The expansion of coronavirus testing across Wisconsin was announced by Gov. Tony Evers along with Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm Thursday.

The expansion includes 71 new free community testing sites that will now be available in 56 counties and 7 tribal nations. These sites have the capacity to test approximately 48,000 people each week. Increasing access to testing for all individuals continues to be a major pillar of Wisconsin’s statewide response plan, and these efforts will help meet this goal.

“Testing is a critically important part of our state’s response to this pandemic, and we want to make it easier for those who need a test to get a test,” said Governor Evers. “Distance is one barrier that we can do something about, and one of the ways to address this issue is to offer testing in more places.”

Key information about the community testing sites:

  • 71 new community testing sites are opening in October and will be available through December 10.

  • 56 counties will host consistent COVID-19 testing sites.

  • 7 tribal nations will be either hosting or co-hosting community testing sites.

  • 35 testing sites will be available 1-3 days a week in 29 counties or tribal nations.

  • 31 testing sites will be available every other week in 27 counties or tribal nations.

  • 5 new sites will be available once a month in 3 counties.

The new sites are intended to ensure consistent access to testing in all regions of the state. Each of the sites uses COVID Connect, the state’s online testing registration and result system, and each has the capacity to collect 300-400 tests a day.

“Testing plays a critical role in protecting our friends and family from further spread of the virus and helps us to understand disease activity around the state,” said Secretary-designee Palm. “If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, we encourage you to visit one of these testing sites, isolate away from others, and let your close contacts know they may have been exposed. Your efforts to keep those around you safe will help stop the spread.”

Testing provides foundational information but is not enough to stop the spread. Actions taken after obtaining a test are the key to preventing further infections. These actions include quarantining while waiting for results, self-isolating and notifying contacts in the case of a positive result, and monitoring symptoms in the case of a negative result.

Each site represents a partnership between the State of Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center, the Wisconsin National Guard, local and tribal public health, and county and tribal emergency management. The Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition coordinators also played a key role in establishing sites across the state.

The community testing sites will be staffed by the Wisconsin National Guard citizen soldiers with one local site manager per site. In addition to the community testing sites, Wisconsin National Guard personnel may also provide testing support for

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NowPow Expands Community Care Networks in Washington to Support Students and Other People with Behavioral Health Needs

NowPow, the personalized community referral platform powering care across the nation, is expanding its digital footprint in the state of Washington. NowPow is launching a new, first-of-its-kind partnership with Educational Service District (ESD) 105, a state agency serving 25 public school districts and over 20 private and tribal schools. The company is also furthering its work with Ideal Option, one of the nation’s largest outpatient medication-assisted treatment providers for substance use disorder.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201028005157/en/

Washington State Skyline – Powering Communities With Knowledge (Graphic: Business Wire)

This means hundreds of thousands of Washington residents can now be connected with personalized services that are highly matched to both their health and social needs, as well as age, gender, eligibility, location, languages spoken, and insurance coverage. ESD 105 and Ideal Option will also work closely with community-based and government organizations to “close the referral loop,” utilizing NowPow to track engagement throughout the process so that providers and community-based partners are able to monitor the outcome of referrals and follow-up as needed.

“Often the biggest obstacle to resource access is a knowledge gap. People don’t know what’s available to them or how to find it. Our mission at NowPow is to support community health and wellness by powering those connections,” said Rachel Kohler, CEO, NowPow. “Thanks to these unique cross-sector partnerships, NowPow is now able to connect vulnerable populations, like students and people with behavioral health needs, to community-based organizations throughout Washington.”

NowPow’s partnership with ESD 105 has the potential to connect more than 66,000 K-12 students and their families to behavioral health resources in the community. Even before the pandemic, 93 percent of school districts in the state had insufficient systems to address behavioral health needs, which have now been compounded by the crisis. After the initial launch, ESD 105 also plans to utilize NowPow’s referral network to address things like food and housing insecurity.

“During these unprecedented times, it is critical that our students have access to behavioral health services to facilitate learning and support overall wellbeing,” said Kevin Chase, Superintendent, ESD 105. “Our partnership with NowPow will help our students and their families address social risk factors and overcome systemic barriers to these critical resources.”

“Knowing the available resources is a challenge. NowPow makes this an easier and more personalized process,” added Chris De Villeneuve, Division Director, Behavioral Health and Integrated Care, Catholic Charities Serving Central Washington.

Ideal Option has seen the value of the NowPow platform at work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Ideal Option and its sister company, Ideal Balance, have leveraged NowPow’s platform to administer comprehensive screening to more than 420 patients with opioid use disorder in the Greater Columbia region and match them to more than 3,600 critical community resources like housing and job assistance. On the heels of this success, Ideal Option brought the NowPow referral network to patients in five more counties in the North Puget Sound region.

“NowPow has been a lifeline

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Pittman Expands Financial Aid For Coronavirus Patients, Families

MILLERSVILLE, MD — Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman launched three initiatives Thursday to help locals weather the coronavirus fallout. The programs will help residents pay bills, find resources and cope with virus-related deaths.

Water Shutoffs

The first initiative looks to help struggling families pay their water bills. Pittman announced the relief effort at a press conference in front of a Millersville water tower.

About 20,000 county residents are behind on their water payements, Pittman said. That’s up 19,000 from this time last year, the county executive added.

“If we don’t help these people, they could not only have their water cut off, but the liens that we are required to put on their homes, and the subsequent foreclosure proceedings could leave them homeless,” Pittman said in a press release after the conference. “Helping to pay their bills is essential.”

Pittman recently bought time for these families by signing Executive Order 30. The mandate prohibited water shutoffs for nonpayment until Nov. 16.

The county will mail applications for the Water Bill Relief Program to residents who qualify. Interested applicants may also dial (410) 222-1144 or email [email protected] TTY users should call Maryland Relay at 7-1-1.

Family Resources

Pittman also announced the COVID Care Coordination Program, an extension of the Department of Health’s contract tracing. The program’s case managers will reach out to people who test positive for coronavirus. The bilingual workers can help find food, shelter, housing, commodities and financial assistance.

The final initiative addresses the pandemic’s effects on mental health. This COVID Recovery and Grief Support Program will offer counseling to families who lost a loved one to coronavirus.

The extra money will bolster the mental health warm line, which has answered more calls during the pandemic. Residents can reach the line at (410) 768-5522.

“What we are experiencing is an increase in the number of individuals who are seeking additional mental health support, many of whom have financial barriers,” said Adrienne Mickler, the executive director of the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency. “These funds will support urgent care appointments and follow up treatment.”

CARES Act Check-In

Pittman will fund his $2 million plan with money from the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act. Anne Arundel County got $101.1 million in CARES Act funding after Congress passed the stimulus package in March.

The county executive’s announcement came hours before Gov. Larry Hogan announced his $250 million plan to keep Maryland’s small businesses afloat. Hogan stressed the importance of spending CARES Act money soon, noting that it expires at the end of the year.

Pittman said that Anne Arundel County has about $25 million to $30 million left in its CARES Act account. Residents can track the county’s coronavirus spending and find resources at this link. The website shows that Anne Arundel has about $52.2 million of CARES Act money remaining, but Pittman noted that the portal needs to be updated with the county’s latest expenditures.

“Water bill

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Ehave Expands Its Psychedelic Mental Health Platform with Medchart, a Leader in Medical Record Software, as a Plugin to the Ehave Dashboard

Ehave partners with world-renowned tech platform, Medchart. The Medchart plugin will allow medical professionals using the Ehave Dashboard to easily transfer medical records, while allowing patients to own their own data and do what they want with it.

MIAMI, Oct. 20, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ehave, Inc. (OTC Pink: EHVVF) (the “Company”), a provider of digital therapeutics delivering evidence-based therapeutic interventions to healthcare patients, announced today it has added Medchart, the only comprehensive solution for medical record exchange, as the first plugin to its Ehave Dashboard. This will not only allow patients to take more control over their psychedelic medical records, it will allow patients to access innovative treatments to mental health by providing clinicians and pharmaceutical companies with data that will make the provision of care more readily available. The combination of Medchart with the Ehave Dashboard will help provide a dataset that can be used to clinically validate some of these more experimental forms of therapy including psychedelics and ketamine treatment.

Personal Health Records (PHR) are a patient’s individualized collection of their health records. By allowing patients to own their own records, medical professionals and psychedelic researchers can begin working with patients to create biomarkers on the how they can live a longer healthier life, as well as what treatments are effective. Giving data to the PHR helps doctors who can prescribe medicine based on your data. As you add sensors into the dashboard you can add more data in your PHR. There are 11 million Americans who are resistant to most mental health therapies, and they can cost the healthcare system as much as $250 billion. Since major pharmaceutical companies don’t develop drugs for them, the Ehave Dashboard could potentially aggregate data from this patient population and provide that data to drug developers for clinical trials. This data could also help insurers route patients to the treatment providers who can help them the most.

Toronto-based Medchart, which enables the electronic transfer of medical records through express patient consent, simplifies the request of health information for patients. Medchart digitizes the exchange of health information between healthcare providers, attorneys, insurers, payers, researchers and patients while improving transfer speed, data quality, and business insights through artificial intelligence and machine learning. The company provides cloud based medical record solutions across North America with purpose-built solutions for personal injury and mass tort attorneys in the United States. Medchart complies with all federal and provincial privacy legislation including HIPAA, PIPEDA, PHIPA, PIPA, PHIA, HIA, and more.

The Ehave Dashboard is a data driven platform that has been strategically developed to provide better communication among medical practitioners and health care providers. The aggregation of data and information into one application has proven effective in streamlining the health process for both patients and providers. The Ehave Dashboard has been developed through years of testing with mental healthcare professionals at one of Canada’s largest hospitals, The Hospital for Sick Children in Ontario. In addition to providing better outcomes, the proprietary platform allows individuals to

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