Cara, a Berlin-based digital health startup, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Atlantic Labs to launch the first precision medicine solution for digestive health. The company says its app could become an important tool to manage inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) and other conditions.
HiDoc Technologies developed the Cara app in 2016 to help people with chronic digestive disorders. Most people with IBDs, irritable bowel syndrome, reflux or food intolerances generally receive conventional one-size-fits-all treatments, which can only work partially.
These treatments sometimes cause side effects, which leads to frustration. Because of individual gut microbial fingerprints, lifestyle and environmental factors, everyone responds differently to treatments for digestive health. Precision medicine solutions like the Cara app, can make treatments more effective, reduce side effects and non-responder rates, as well as ultimately save money.
The app is a food and symptom diary to allow people to track their nutrition, symptoms and other factors, like medication and activity. It also provides analysis and actionable insights that let users understand their body and regain control — an approach is often called poop-tech.
“Poop tech is the next big thing. Digestive issues are still a taboo topic but we are now making them visible to the public,” Jesaja Brinkmann, Cara’s medical co-founder, said in a press release. “Digestive diseases are widespread. There are so many people out there suffering from bloating, diarrhea, constipation or stomach pain on a daily basis.”
Unfortunately, he said, many doctors and nurses aren’t up-to-date with the latest treatment options.
“Also, conventional treatments don’t work for everyone,” Brinkmann said. “None of our competitors combine the patient’s individual microbial, lifestyle, environmental and treatment response data as well as predictive treatment outcome algorithms which are needed to learn and offer individualized and appropriate digestive remedies for microbiome optimization and symptom reduction.”
The app uses algorithms to help patients learn how their symptoms evolve and adjust a probiotic formula also developed by Cara, called Cara Biotics. The app then evaluates how an individual’s microbiome adjusts. The next steps in store for Cara app include the ability to match the right digestive medicines to the right patient by combining microbiome insights with artificial intelligence and treatment response data.