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Monday, Nov 28, 2022
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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

FUNDING

Thrivelab Co., a San Clemente telehealth provider of hormone replacement therapy, has closed a $4 million seed round led by diagnostics firm Discover Labs, CEO Joshua Host told the Business Journal.

The funding will allow Thrivelab to expand its services nationwide; the company’s offerings are currently available in 30 states. The money also enables Thrivelab to reduce its current time to treatment by 28% and support the company’s next phase of machine learning for diagnostics, Host said.

Thrivelab says that its services cut the cost of hormone replacement therapy by 70% and reduce the time of treatment by 65%. The company plans to scale its patient intake from 1,000 per month to 5,000 per month in the next half year.

Host founded Thrivelab in 2020 after bioidentical hormone replacement therapy helped him recover from brain injuries he suffered from a biking accident about seven years ago. Host also serves as CEO for Laguna Beach hospitality company Antiresort and San Clemente real estate company Mariachi Cover Band LLC. He previously co-founded Irvine mixed-use project developer Urban Village Development Company LLC. Host served as the chief executive of mortgage company My Loan Host, which was sold in 2006, according to Host’s LinkedIn.

Amplifica Holdings Group Inc., a San Diego biopharmaceutical company with UCI ties, recently closed a $11.8 million Series A preferred stock financing facilitated by SternAegis Ventures.

The funding will allow the company to advance the development of its treatment for hair loss in men and women.

“The investor participation in this financing round exceeded our Series A target, highlighting the unmet need in the marketplace for a solution to the challenge of hair loss, as well as the excitement for Amplifica’s novel approach and first-in-class therapies to address this problem,” CEO and President Frank Fazio said in a statement.

Amplifica’s technology aims to employ signaling molecules that stimulate dormant hair follicle stem cells, leading to hair regrowth, company officials said. The company expects to launch its first clinical program next year.

Amplifica was co-founded by UCI biology professor Maksim Plikus, whose research has indicaqted that a molecule called SCUBE3 can stimulate new hair growth.

Fazio, the company’s CEO, also serves as the chief executive of consulting organization AMC Group. He has previously held various iterations of the senior VP, corporate development role at dietary supplement and food ingredient company ChromaDex Corp. (Nasdaq: CDXC), which counts OC ties, as well as Irvine skincare manufacturing company ZO Skin Health Inc. and aesthetics company Sunna Medical.

LAUNCH

LaWow LLC, a Laguna Niguel legal software company, has unveiled its lawsuit search engine designed for the public—the first of its kind, the company says.

The platform intends to be a resource for journalists, researchers, employees, stock investors and others who are curious about lawsuits, company officials said.

“We believe public information should be public, but if the government charges fees for access is it really public?” Anderson Zou, CEO of laWow, said in a statement. “I saw a lot of breaking news referring to lawsuits but always had a difficult time finding the actual document.  To me, it seemed like a big ‘information gap’ on the internet … so we set out to solve it.

“This public utility is long overdue … an unbiased-facts-only source for information and news is critical now more than ever,” Zou added.

The company, founded this year, recently completed a financing round of $2.2 million led by Dant Ventures LLC, which is owned by stock holding firm Actuarial Management Corp., according to company officials.

The company is currently growing its team of developers, laWow officials said.

Its team currently counts 18 employees who add around 5,000 cases a day, laWow co-founder Jonathan Wallentine, who is the CEO of Actuarial Management told the Business Journal.

The search engine currently counts about over 30,000 cases.

“We’re trying to democratize the legal system,” he said.

Zou previously served as VP, corporate development at Actuarial Management. He was a research scholar at Columbia Law School.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Agile Occupational Medicine PC, a Costa Mesa-based clinic company focused on providing care to injured workers, has entered Northern California with its acquisition of Emergyville Occupational Medicine.

The deal adds four clinics in Emeryville, Sacramento, Redding and Santa Cruz to Agile’s portfolio. Agile now counts six clinics following the acquisition.

“These clinics fill a need in underserved communities, especially in Redding and Santa Cruz, where employers need more access to quality care,” Agile founder and CEO Greg Moore said in a statement.

Agile focuses on forming partnerships with local businesses to ensure that the medical needs of local employees are addressed, the company said. It provides Department of Transportation physicals, drug screenings and workplace injury treatment.

The company in May raised an undisclosed amount in a funding round led by Angeles Equity Partners. It aims to grow its portfolio to at least 30 clinics over the next two years, Chief Communications Officer Ken Thompson told the Business Journal.

Moore, who founded Agile last year, previously led fast-growing occupational clinic network Akeso Occupational Health. Most of Agile’s C-suite hails from Irvine-based Akeso, Thomspon said. Moore was also CEO of Irvine medical network tool provider Harbor Health Systems, which was acquired by One Call Medical Inc. in 2012.

REGULATORY

NKGen Biotech Inc., a Santa Ana biotech company developing natural cell therapies to strengthen the immune system, received Investigational New Drug clearance from the FDA to begin a Phase 1 study of its cell therapy for cancer patients whose diseases are resistant to the current standard of care.

The study will assess the safety and tolerability of NKGen’s cell therapy, SNK02, which is cryopreserved and blood-derived, according to company officials. NKGen expects the study to begin in the first quarter of next year.

“This clearance for SNK02 is an important milestone in our pursuit to bring life-changing therapies to cancer patients and will be our second clinical NK cell therapy program focusing on solid tumors, following our SNK01 autologous product entering Phase 2 studies next year,” NKGen Vice Chairman Paul Song said in a statement.

NKGen Biotech has raised $11 million in funding to date. The company, a subsidiary of Korean biotech company NKMax Co., was founded in 2019 by Sangwoo Park. Park also founded NKMax, which is traded overseas and valued at $226 million, three years ago. He previously worked as a financial analyst at wealth management Samsung Securities Co.

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