Issue 55: Going viral got him a kidney, GoFundMe for medical bills, and VR for hospice

Going viral could get you a kidney

Image from CNN

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Raymond Thompson was desperate to find a kidney donor for his wife Mylen, so he simply stuck a sign saying as much to his backpack and went about his day, hoping for the best. A CNN reporter happened to spot him in a local Target, so she snapped a picture of him and posted it to Twitter. The post went viral and got around 23,000 retweets and 35,000 likes from even a few celebrities. With that kind of attention, it’s no surprise that Thompson’s phone was inundated with messages and calls from places as far as Pakistan and Australia with people offering to donate kidneys. He and his wife were thrilled about potentially finding a match and refused any money people tried to send their way. What an uplifting way to end the year!

1/3 of GoFundMe campaigns are for medical bills

Image from GoFundMe

Patients are turning to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to help pay for medical bills. GoFundMe says that 1/3 of the money raised on the platform goes towards medical costs. The popular crowd funding platform has raised more than 5 billion for various campaigns in its 8 year history. Considering that 1/2 of Americans said they would be unable to pay for a $1k emergency medical bill, it's likely that crowdfunding sites will continue to raise more $$$ for patient's medical needs.

VR for hospice

The hype is real

VR is so freaking over-hyped, but that hasn't stopped it from being used in niche settings. The latest comes from an SF based startup called Embodied Labs that helps medical students and providers experience what a patient goes through while in hospice. The idea is that a VR hospice experience will give providers more empathy into how patients experience their last few months.


Have you ever heard of Pear Therapeutics? Well you need to cause they are causing waves in the pharma industry. They create digital therapeutics. They were the first company to receive FDA approval for a digital therapeutic called reSET. Now they have received FDA approval again for a digital therapy called reSET-0 which will treat opioid use disorder. The app works by providing CBT to help patients with OUD curb their cravings.

Relay Therapeutics gets $400 million from Softbank

A Boston based drug discovery startup recently raised a massive series C round of $400 million. The round was lead by none other than the largest VC firm on Earth - Softbank. The series C was 6x larger than the last series B. The startup called Relay Therapeutics uses computational modeling to find all the binding sites on proteins as well as sites that are important in interacting with surrounding molecules. 

Most Americans want CRISPR babies
Image from Sythego. CRISPR-Cas9 complex on DNA

Last month a Chinese scientist created human twins using CRISPR and the entire world (rightly so) freaked the f out. But according to a recent poll analyzed by STAT news most Americans are actually in favor of CRISPR babies. The AP-NORC poll results show that 7/10 Americans favor CRISPR if it can prevent a fatal or incurable disease. But let's not get carried away. 7/10 Americans are against using CRISPR to make super-babies aka tall strong babies that are super healthy. In summary Americans want to use the tech to improve society and not to create some futuristic brave new world like utopia. That being said maybe the writing is already on the wall: 9/10 Americans think that the technology will eventually be abused and indeed it already has...