2020-08-27| Funding

Freenome Receives $270 Million Funding for Early Cancer Detection

by Ruchi Jhonsa
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The Series C financing was led by new investor Bain Capital Life Sciences and existing investor Perceptive Advisors. The funds will be used to advance the PREEMPT CRC™ clinical trial and the development of colorectal cancer blood test screening.

By Ruchi Jhonsa, Ph.D.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. However, due to improvements in the screening methods, its incidence is dropping rapidly. While this is good news, with the rising cases of COVID-19, a lot of people are foregoing visits to the hospitals for the fear of catching the infection. This has significantly decreased the number of patients who get colon screenings for colorectal cancer. A delay in screening can be devastating for a patient as it results in poor outcome and death from colorectal cancer.

In these times, a need for a simple home-based screening is pressing. San Francisco-based biotech, Freenome is working to develop a blood-based screening method for colon cancer detection that eliminates the need to undergo hard-to-do screening procedures such as colonoscopy. The company received $160 million last year, which helped launch a study for its “multiomics test” to detect colorectal cancer and precancerous lesions.

On August 26th, Freenome received $270 million in Series C funding, bringing the company’s total financing to over $500 million. The new funds will be used to accelerate the PREEMPT CRC study, which will enroll 14,000 participants between the ages of 45-85 to validate a blood test that can provide accurate detection of colorectal cancer. The Series C round led by Bain Capital Life Sciences and Perspective Advisors will also advance a pipeline of blood tests for both early detection and early intervention of multiple other cancers.

Freenome CFO William Quirk commented, “This funding will allow us to execute on our business plans by accelerating the registrational study for our blood test for colorectal cancer screening toward approval, reimbursement, and commercialization while, at the same time, advancing our pipeline of blood tests for screening other cancers. We are well-positioned for Freenome’s next stage of growth, leveraging the full potential of our novel multiomics platform as a disruptive technology for cancer screening.”

Cancer screening using blood tests could make early detection of cancer possible; however, currently available methods are limited in their accuracy and work only for certain types of cancers. Freenome is uniquely dealing with this limitation. Its diagnostics search for direct evidence of tumors as well as signs of the immune system’s response in the blood by combining genomics, transcriptomics, methylomics, and proteomics with advanced computational biology and machine learning algorithms. While this generates a huge amount of data, AI enables easy molecule pattern recognition among billions of cell-free biomarkers helping in making meaningful conclusions.

Jeffrey Schwartz, a Managing Director at Bain Capital Life Sciences said, “Freenome’s innovative approach to detecting cancer early, when it is most treatable, is on the leading edge of the liquid biopsy field with features that are advanced and differentiated for cancer screening. The platform’s ability to detect a range of cancer types is compelling and we look forward to working with the company as it continues its growth.”

Related Article: FDA Okays Foundation Medicine’s Comprehensive Liquid Biopsy Test



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