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Chrono Therapeutics raises $47.6M for smoking cessation wearable to deliver nicotine fix before you wake

Chrono Therapeutics will use the funding to support clinical trials of the wearable device in the U.S. and Europe to wean smokers off cigarettes using timed delivery of nicotine.

Chrono_HERO_ForPress[1]Smoking cessation is a big priority for self-insured employer programs and payers, particularly since most payers are inclined to reimburse for these programs because of the impact of smoking on health. The challenge, as Chrono Therapeutics CEO Alan Levy views it, is that most of these smoking cessation programs have a relatively low rate of success. He believes his company can do better.

Chrono Therapeutics has developed a transdermal wearable delivering nicotine timed when the user needs it. Levy said research shows that smokers’ cigarette cravings tend to be highest in the morning because they have not had nicotine for eight hours. They frequently smoke their first cigarette of the day within 30 minutes of waking up. That’s why the wearable lets users set their patch like an alarm clock. The patch contains a reservoir of 1cc of nicotine and delivers a nictotine fix through a membrane touching the skin an hour before users wake up. The wearable is geared to deliver nicotine at other times people tend to crave nicotine such as mealtimes. The 10-week program delivers reduced levels of nicotine over time.

“We have a basal level [of nicotine] that peaks at times of greatest cravings,” Levy said.

The wearable also has a “crave” button users can press that records the moment they want a cigarette and triggers an immediate coaching message through the app to help the user get through the moment without smoking.

There is also a behavior change component to Chrono’s program. A smartphone app is designed to provide timely coaching messages and emotional support to help users deal with stressful situations.

The $47.6 million Series B round the company has closed is intended to fund clinical trials in the U.S. and in Europe. Depending on how well the trials, go, Levy said the business hopes to get regulatory approval of the device on both sides of the Atlantic in 2018.

Kaiser Permanente Ventures led the round, according to a news release.  Other participants included several investors from outside the U.S., reflecting the global interest in smoking cessation programs. They include  Endeavour Vision (Switzerland) Xeraya Capital (Malaysia),  Asahi Kasei (Japan), and Hikma Ventures (UK).  Other U.S. investors include Cota Capital, Emergent Medical Partners, and Mission Bay Capital. Existing investors Canaan Partners, 5AM Ventures, Fountain Health Partners, GE Ventures, and Mayo Clinic all participated in the round.

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Levy said the company plans to do a pharmacokinetics trial, a cravings reduction study and a study to establish whether Chrono’s treatment is superior to a placebo.

Although smoking cessation is a significant area of need, Levy said the company is also using its transdermal drug delivery patch to target other conditions. Work has already started on a prescription opioid abuse treatment program. Levy added that it also plans to work on a treatment for levodopa-induced dyskinesia, a condition associated with long-term dopamine therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients.