Cercle, a new AI company focused on advancing healthcare for women, launched out of stealth Wednesday.
Leveraging AI, the Cercle Biomedical Graph platform collects billions of de-identified biomedical and genomics data points drawn securely from healthcare clinics and research labs around the world. It then converts often unstructured, fragmented clinical data into insights for researchers and providers. The platform is the first and only of its kind, Cercle claims.
“We believe a healthy life is a right, not a privilege,” Juan Carlos Riveiro, CEO and co-founder of Cercle, said in a press release. “Instead of continuing to collect cobwebs, the world’s medical data should be leveraged to generate groundbreaking data-driven insights at speed and scale.”
It is estimated that up to 80% of medical data are unstructured. That makes it difficult to analyze and study, Cercle argues. The startup uses AI to transform raw and fragmented data into insights using real-world data and real-world evidence. It can then offer clients insights to offer more personalized, precise treatment plans based on the anonymized medical histories of a diverse base of patients from around the world, per the company.
To date, Cercle has partnered with Eurofins Genoma, a global provider of DNA sequencing services, and US Fertility, one of the largest physician-owned networks of fertility centers. The partners, which include hundreds of fertility and genetics clinics across Europe and the U.S., get access to the Cercle platform while providing anonymized data to help build out the technology. Together, the partners hope to elevate in vitro fertilization outcomes and success rates.
The partnership has helped US Fertility optimize its research and internal quality assurance capabilities, according to Medical Director and Chief Research Officer Kate Devine, M.D. “As a field, fertility medicine has dramatically improved and matured to the point of high success over a short time period,” she said in the announcement. “My hope is that AI tools will help us cross the next threshold of success in terms of patient outcomes, patient experience and optimizing efficiency so that we can expand access to fertility care to everyone who needs it.”
Eurofins Genoma is similarly excited about AI in healthcare. “The technology that Cercle leverages within its biomedical graph allows for efficient insights that clinics Eurofins Genoma serves did not have access to previously,” the company’s managing director, Marco Barbierato, said in the announcement. “This will support the genetics industry to take a step towards contributing to improving overall health outcomes.”
It wasn’t until 1993 that women were officially required by Congress to be included in clinical research studies. To this day, very few innovations in biopharma and medtech are aimed at women, Cercle argues. Women are diagnosed an average of four years later than men when it comes to more than 700 diseases, according to one recent study.
While Cercle is initially launching in fertility with a mission to close the data gap in women’s healthcare, it plans to support doctors and clinics as well as biotech and pharma researchers across many women’s healthcare verticals beyond fertility in the future.
The platform is HIPAA compliant and designed to never manage any personal information. Cercle’s current lead investors include Sheryl Sandberg and Tom Bernthal through their venture fund, Sandberg Bernthal Venture Partners.
SBVP was already an investor before Cercle saw interest from providers, according to Gareth Schweitzer, Cercle board member and partner at SBVP. “But we are glad that providers are validating Cercle’s thesis—that the Cercle Biomedical Graph can help them utilize the large quantity of high-quality patient data in their EMRs on behalf of future patients,” he told Fierce Healthcare.
Underwriting in the IVF and fertility space has historically been constrained, making insurance coverage sparse and expensive, he added. With a tool like Cercle, there is more payer interest “if there is considerably more confidence in the underwriting process.”
When it comes to pricing structure, Schweitzer believes Cercle will not have to sacrifice its affordability to see a return on investment. The goal is to help democratize access to data insights and to a tool like Cercle, Schweitzer said, and its strength will grow as more users utilize it. Thus, preserving widespread access to the platform is key.
“We are all in this for the long haul,” Schweitzer said. “The company can maintain a significant upward trajectory without making pricing an impediment to working with us.”