- Digital health company iRhythm Technologies said Wednesday it will work with Alphabet's life sciences research organization Verily to develop new tools for screening, diagnosing and managing patients with atrial fibrillation, or AFib, a condition that can multiply a person's risk for severe or fatal stroke.
- Within the population of approximately 10 million Americans iRhythm estimates to be at high risk for AFib, the partners are particularly interested in the subset at risk for asymptomatic or silent AFib, which can be present more often in individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes and sleep apnea.
- The partnership entails iRhythm making $5 million in upfront payments to Verily with potential milestone payments of up to $12.75 million.
U.S. deaths tied to AFib have been rising for more than two decades, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As many as 6.1 million Americans likely have the condition, resulting in a quarter of a million hospitalizations and 130,000 deaths each year.
Those figures made the condition a target for Apple, which has tested its De Novo-winning irregular rhythm notification feature for Apple Watch as a tool to prompt certain users to receive additional monitoring via an EKG patch. Johnson & Johnson said earlier this year it would partner with Apple on a randomized clinical trial studying the role of wearables to improve early detection of the condition.
iRhythm, which markets a wearable biosensor device designed to collect heart data to help diagnose cardiac arrhythmias, is now enlisting the help of Verily to work on technology that can provide warnings sooner. The company hopes to reduce the 20% of AFib-related stroke cases in patients whose AFib isn't diagnosed until the cardiac event has already happened. But iRhythm offered few details on the nature of the "solutions" it intends to develop.
The company said in its announcement that Verily brings expertise in advanced health data analytics technologies to the collaboration. Verily's current stable of medtech partner-projects includes helping Dexcom miniaturize its continuous glucose monitor technology and developing a digital surgery platform with J&J's Ethicon through a startup called Verb Surgical.
Verily isn't entirely new to AFib; the organization has an FDA-cleared "Study Watch" with an AFib detection algorithm that is has assessed in an observational study of persistent and intermittent AFib patients.
iRhythm went public in 2016, raising $107 million in its IPO. During the second quarter of 2019, the company made $53.3 million, representing a 50% year-over-year increase in revenue and 13% sequential growth compared to the first quarter. On the earnings call July 31, iRhythm CEO Kevin King called silent AF "our near-term primary market expansion priority."
Looking ahead to 2020, King told investors the company expects publishing of three-year clinical outcomes and healthcare utilization from from the company's mSToPs trial, which is examining the effect of home-based wearable continuous EKG monitoring patch use on detection of undiagnosed AFib.
Earlier findings from the trial appeared in JAMA last year, concluding use of a home-based, self-applied EKG patch facilitated AFib diagnosis and greater initiation of anticoagulants. But further research is needed regarding clinical implications, the authors said.
Separately, iRhythm Wednesday announced it had started a public offering of $100 million of shares of its common stock.