Follow the Money: Cash for AI Models, Oncology, Hematology Therapies

August 5, 2020

By Bio-IT World Staff 


August 5, 2020 | Sema4 gets $121M to build dynamic models of human health and define optimal, individualized health trajectories. Glioblastoma, hematology, and acute pancreatitis all see new funding for therapy development. And AI-powered models net cash.   

$257M: Series B for Liquid Biopsy for Multiple Cancers 

Thrive Earlier Detection, Cambridge, Mass., closed $257 million in Series B financing. Funds will help advance CancerSEEK, a liquid biopsy test designed to detect multiple cancers at earlier stages of disease, into registrational trial. The round was led by Casdin Capital and Section 32, with participation from new investors Bain Capital Life Sciences, Brown Advisory, Driehaus Capital Management, Intermountain Ventures, Janus Henderson Investors, Lux Capital, and more.  


$121M: Series C for Data-Driven Health Intelligence 

Sema4, Stamford, Conn., closed a Series C round led by BlackRock with additional new investors including Deerfield Management Company and Moore Strategic Ventures. Sema4 is dedicated to transforming healthcare by building dynamic models of human health and defining optimal, individualized health trajectories. The company began with an emphasis on reproductive health and recently launched Sema4 Signal, a family of products and services providing data-driven precision oncology solutions. Over the last several months, Sema4 has also joined the fight against COVID-19. Sema4 has integrated its premier clinical and scientific expertise with its cutting-edge digital capabilities to deliver a holistic testing program that enables organizations to make fast, informed decisions as they navigate COVID-19. The company has also launched Centrellis, an innovative health intelligence platform designed to provide a more complete understanding of disease and wellness and to offer physicians deeper insight into the patient populations they serve. 


$112M: Series C for Phase 2 for Glioblastoma Treatment 

Imvax, Philadelphia, raised $112 million in series C financing from existing investors HP WILD Holding AG, Ziff Capital Partners, Magnetar Capital, and TLP Investment Partners, and new institutional investor, Invus. The funds will to support Phase 2 Clinical Development of IGV-001 for treatment of Glioblastoma multiforme, Phase 1 research into additional solid tumor indications, and will help build out corporate and manufacturing capabilities.  


$97M: Series C for Hematology, Oncology Therapies 

Antengene Corporation, Shanghai, has closed $97 million in Series C financing led by Fidelity Management & Research Company with additional support from new investors including GL Ventures (an affiliate of Hillhouse Capital) and GIC. Existing investors including Qiming Venture Partners and Boyu Capital also participated. Proceeds from the Series C financing will be primarily used to fund the continuing clinical development of Antengene's robust pipeline of hematology and oncology therapies, expanding in-house research and development capabilities and strengthening the commercial infrastructures in APAC markets.  


$71M: Accelerate Finger-Prick Blood Analyzer 

Sight Diagnostics, Tel Aviv, has raised $71 million from Koch Disruptive Technologies, Longliv Ventures, a member of the CK Hutchison Holdings and OurCrowd. The investment is meant to fuel Sight’s R&D into the automated identification and detection of diseases through its FDA-cleared direct-from-fingerstick Complete Blood Count (CBC) analyzer. The new investment will enable Sight to substantially expand its U.S. footprint.  


$50M: Series B Extension for Enzymatic DNA Synthesis 

DNA Script, Paris, announced a $50 million extension to its Series B financing, bringing the total investment of this round to $89 million. This oversubscribed round is led by Casdin Capital and joined by Danaher Life Sciences, Agilent Technologies, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, through its corporate venture arm, M Ventures three of the world's leaders in oligo synthesis LSP, the Bpifrance Large Venture Fund and Illumina Ventures. Funding from this investment round will enable DNA Script to accelerate the development of its suite of enzymatic DNA synthesis (EDS) technologies in particular, to support the commercial launch of the company's SYNTAX DNA benchtop printer. 


$25M: Series A for Targeted Exosome Vehicles  

Mantra Bio, San Francisco, has raised $25 million in a Series A financing to advance development of next generation, precision therapeutics based on its proprietary platform for engineering Targeted Exosome Vehicles (TEVs). 8VC and Viking Global Investors led the round, which also included Box Group and Allen & Company LLC. Mantra Bio’s REVEAL is an automated high throughput platform that rapidly designs, tests and optimizes TEVs for specific therapeutic applications. The platform integrates computational approaches, wet biology, and robotics, to leverage the diversity of exosomes and enable the rational design of therapeutics directed at a wide range of tissue and cellular targets.  


$23.7M: Shared Grant for Biologically Based Polymers 

The National Science Foundation has named the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Santa Barbara, partners in a collaboration called BioPACIFIC MIP—for BioPolymers, Automated Cellular Infrastructure, Flow, and Integrated Chemistry: Materials Innovation Platform—and has funded the effort with a five-year, $23.7 million grant. The initiative is part of the NSF Materials Innovation Platforms program, and its scientific methodology reflects the broad goals of the federal government’s Materials Genome Initiative, which aims to develop new materials “twice as fast at a fraction of the cost.” The collaboration aims to advance the use of microbes for sustainable production of new plastics.  


$17M: Series A to Scale At-Home Blood Collection 

Tasso, Seattle, secured a $17 million Series A financing round led by Hambrecht Ducera Growth Ventures and included Foresite Capital, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Vertical Venture Partners, Techstars, and Cedars-Sinai. The company will use the proceeds to scale manufacturing and operations to meet the increased demand for its line of innovative Tasso OnDemand devices, which enable people to collect their own blood using a virtually painless process from anywhere at any time. These fast and easy-to-use products are being adopted by leading academic medical institutions, government agencies, comprehensive cancer centers, and pharmaceutical organizations around the world. 


$12M: Molecular Data, AI Build Therapeutic Models 

Endpoint Health, Palo Alto, Calif., emerged from stealth mode in mid-July with $12 million in debt and equity financing led by Mayfield to make targeted therapies for patients with critical illnesses including sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Endpoint Health is led by an experienced executive team including the co-founders of GeneWEAVE, an infection detection and therapy guidance company that was acquired by Roche in 2015. Endpoint Health’s approach combines molecular and digital patient data with AI to create comprehensive therapeutic models—tools that identify distinct patient subgroups and treatment patterns in order to highlight unmet therapeutic needs. These models are used to identify late-stage and on-market therapies, often created for other indications, that Endpoint can develop into targeted therapies, which will include the required tests and software to guide their use.  


$12M: Start of an NIH Contract For COVID-19 Microfluidics  

Fluidigm Corporation, South San Francisco, Calif., announced execution of a letter contract with the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, for a proposed project under the agency’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program. The project, with a total proposed budget of up to $37 million, contemplates expanding production capacity and throughput capabilities for COVID-19 testing with Fluidigm microfluidics technology. The letter contract provides Fluidigm with access to up to $12 million of initial funding based on completion and delivery of certain validation milestones prior to execution of the definitive contract. A goal of the RADx initiative is to enable approximately 6 million daily tests in the United States by December 2020.  


$6.5M: Series A for AI-Powered Precision Oncology 

Nucleai, Tel Aviv, a computational biology company providing an AI-powered precision oncology platform for research and treatment decisions, secured $6.5M Series A initial closing. Debiopharm’s strategic corporate venture capital fund led the round joined by existing investors: Vertex Ventures and Grove Ventures. Nucleai’s core technology analyzes large and unique datasets of tissue images using computer vision and machine learning methods to model the spatial characteristics of both the tumor and the patient’s immune system, creating unique signatures that are predictive of patient response.  


$5M: Pharma Grant for Rural Lung Cancer 

Stand Up To Cancer, New York, received a new $5 million grant from Bristol Myers Squibb to fund research and education efforts aimed at achieving health equity for underserved lung cancer patients, including Black people and people living in rural communities. The research efforts funded by the three-year grant will consist of supplemental grants to current Stand Up To Cancer research teams. The supplemental grants will focus on identifying new and innovative diagnostic and treatment methods for lung cancer patients in need. These supplemental grants will be designed to jumpstart pilot projects at the intersection of lung cancers, health disparities and rural healthcare, for instance increasing clinical trial enrollment among historically under-represented groups. Since 2014, Bristol Myers Squibb has provided funding for important Stand Up To Cancer research initiatives.  


$2.5M: Cloud-Based XR Platform 

Grid Raster, Mountain View, Calif., secured $2.5 million led by Blackhorn Ventures with participation from other existing investors MaC Venture Capital and Exfinity Venture Partners. This infusion of additional capital enables Grid Raster to continue developing its XR solutions, powered by cloud-based remote rendering and 3D vision-based AI, in key customer markets that include Aerospace, Defense, Automotive and Telecommunications. 


$1.5M: SBIR for Acute Pancreatitis 

Lamassu Pharma has received $1.5 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This will be used for further development of its lead therapeutic compound, RABI-767, a novel small molecule lipase inhibitor licensed from the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Lamassu is developing RABI-767 to fill a critical, unmet clinical need for a treatment for acute pancreatitis (AP). Lamassu's proposed treatment is designed to mitigate the systemic toxicity and organ failure associated with acute pancreatitis that causes lengthy hospitalization, organ failure, and death, thus saving both lives and healthcare system resources. Funding from the NIH will enable Lamassu to further its translational research, to bring RABI-767 to human trials, and to partner with clinical and commercial development partners. 


$800K: Protein Interaction Platform  

A-Alpha Bio, Seattle, has been awarded an $800,000 grant to optimize therapeutics for infectious diseases. Awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the grant work will be carried out by A-Alpha Bio in partnership with Lumen Bioscience using machine learning models built from data generated by A-Alpha Bio’s proprietary AlphaSeq platform. A-Alpha Bio has already completed a pilot study in partnership with Lumen Biosciences and supported by the Gates Foundation. This pilot study successfully demonstrated the AlphaSeq platform’s ability to characterize binding of therapeutic antibodies against multiple pathogen strains simultaneously. With the latest grant, the companies will use AlphaSeq data to train machine learning models for the development of potent and cross-reactive therapeutics against intestinal and respiratory pathogens. 


$620K: Grant for Gas-Sensing Ingestible 

Atmo Biosciences, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, has been awarded a $620,000 Australian Government grant through the BioMedTech Horizons (BMTH) program. Atmo addresses the unmet clinical need to interrogate and monitor the function of the gut microbiota, allowing better diagnosis and development of personalized therapies for gastrointestinal disorders, resulting in earlier and more successful relief of symptoms, and reduced healthcare costs. Atmo’s platform is underpinned by the Atmo Gas Capsule, a world-first ingestible gas-sensing capsule that senses clinically important gaseous biomarkers produced by the microbiome in the gastrointestinal system. This data is wirelessly transmitted to the cloud for aggregation and analysis.