Liquid biopsies that enable screening, early detection of cancer attract attention of investors

Interest is high in the development of blood-based tests that can be used to screen individuals for cancer. That isn't new, liquid biopsy industry has attracted attention and investment for the past few years. What is changing is that investors are more interested in screening and early detection - not just monitoring. Healthcare research firm Kalorama Information made the finding in a recent report. Kalorama Information's World Market for Molecular Diagnostics report provides markets for CTC (circulating tumor cell) testing, a type of testing related to liquid biopsy. Cell-free DNA is another type of market and Kalorama has also covered that market in detail.

At the beginning of March, it was widely reported that Grail had raised $900 million of a planned $1 billion, in the first close of a Series B financing round Investors in this second round are reported to include Arch Venture Partners (leading the round), Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Johnson and Johnson Innovation, McKesson Ventures, Merck, Tencent Holdings, and Varian Medical Systems. Other developments include:

  • In January 2017, Illumina had announced that GRAIL planned to raise over $1 billion in a Series B financing round.  Illumina was an early investor in GRAIL.  Only one year earlier, Illumina announced that GRAIL had been formed to enable cancer screening from a simple blood test, and that GRAIL was initially funded by over $100 million in Series A financing.
  • Freenome is also focusing on early detection of cancer.  At the beginning of March, Freenome announced that it had raised $65 million in a Series A financing round.  This financing was led by Andreessen Horowitz.
  • Other investors included GV (Google Ventures), Polaris Partners, Charles River Ventures, Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors, Spectrum 28, Asset Management Ventures.
  • There were other investors from previous rounds such as Data Collective and Founders Fund.  The previous year (in June 2016), Freenome announced that the company had raised $5.55 million in a seed round that was also led by Andreessen Horowitz.

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