Freenome raises $160m to advance cancer diagnostic test

25 July 2019 (Last Updated July 25th, 2019 11:22)

Biotechnology startup Freenome has secured $160m in a Series B funding round to support further development of a blood test for early detection of cancer. 

Freenome raises $160m to advance cancer diagnostic test
Freenome intends to use funds to further develop its blood test for screening of colorectal cancer. Credit: Arek Socha from Pixabay.

Biotechnology startup Freenome has secured $160m in a Series B funding round to support further development of a blood test for early detection of cancer.

Proceeds bring Freenome’s total financing to $238m. The company intends to use funds to evaluate its blood test in a validation study for the screening of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer type in the US and has a 90% relative survival rate of five years when detected early versus 14% in advanced cases.

The company plans to submit the colorectal cancer test for a parallel review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Funds from the Series B financing will also be leveraged to expand Freenome’s laboratory infrastructure and software.

RA Capital Management and Polaris Partners led the funding round, with participation from Perceptive Advisors, Roche Venture Fund, funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates, Kaiser Permanente Ventures and BrightEdge Ventures.

Existing investors GV (formerly Google Ventures), Andreessen Horowitz, Verily Life Sciences, Data Collective Venture Capital and Section 32 also joined.

Freenome CEO Gabe Otte said: “We have already demonstrated promising clinical results at Digestive Disease Week this year, where our cell-free DNA (cfDNA) assay and machine learning approach enabled high-sensitivity and specificity in a cohort of mostly early-stage colorectal cancer patients.

“This funding will allow us to execute the necessary validation study for approval and reimbursement coverage of our colorectal cancer screening test, as well as expand our platform to other forms of cancer or immune-driven disease areas in the future.”

The company’s diagnostic test is backed by a multi-omics platform that identifies biological signals in a routine blood sample.

In addition to cfDNA, the platform combines methylation and protein assays with computational biology and machine learning to detect tumour, as well as immune-derived signatures to identify cancer early.