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Karius raises $50m to transform infectious disease with cell-free DNA test

Published 08 August 2017

Karius has raised $50m in Series A equity financing for technology enabling broad and rapid detection of infectious diseases.

Existing investors Data Collective (DCVC) and Lightspeed Venture Partners co-led the financing, with major participation from new investors including Tencent and Khosla Ventures. Existing investors Innovation Endeavors and Spectrum 28 participated as well.

Funds will be used to support ongoing and new clinical trials, scale up laboratory capacity, and advance commercialization of the Karius test, which uses a combination of machine learning, proprietary genomics algorithms, and next-generation sequencing to enable the broad and rapid detection of more than 1,250 pathogens.

The company recently moved into a new 25,000-square foot facility, significantly increasing laboratory space and capacity to process more tests.

Using a standard blood draw, the Karius test identifies cell-free DNA fragments left by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other eukaryotic pathogens in a patient’s bloodstream, even when living organisms are no longer detectable in the blood. Karius is the first company to put microbial cell-free DNA analysis data into the hands of clinicians, making it commercially available through its CAP-accredited and CLIA-certified laboratory service.

The company can provide a potentially life-saving diagnosis for patients, typically within one business day of blood sample receipt.

"We're excited to partner with this world-class group of investors and innovators to help us conquer infectious diseases using the power of genomics," said CEO Mickey Kertesz, Ph.D.

"Infectious diseases are a leading cause of mortality globally and an enormous area of unmet need. Clinical results from our early access program demonstrate that the Karius test allows clinicians to diagnose infections more rapidly and accurately. We've enabled doctors to devise precise and effective treatment plans for patients and speed recovery times. We look forward to further broadening availability of our technology in the coming months.”

Matt Ocko, Managing Partner at DCVC, said: “We seeded and have doubled-down on financing Karius for two reasons.

“First, because the core team has already significantly advanced sequencing with their previous company, which we also helped finance and that was ultimately acquired by Illumina. Secondly, and more importantly, Karius is providing doctors with critical information that can save lives that would be otherwise lost to infectious disease. This new financing will help Karius do this on a global scale.”

Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death around the world, and traditional methods of testing can only detect a narrow range of pathogens and may require invasive biopsies. Earlier this summer, Karius presented data at ASM Microbe 2017 demonstrating the ability of the company’s technology to detect pathogens from cell-free DNA using next-generation sequencing.

"I am passionate about the potential of Karius' technology to save lives – and I couldn't be more excited to see what the team has accomplished since the core technology spun out of my lab," said Stephen Quake, Ph.D., Karius Scientific Co-Founder and Co-President of Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. "Karius is poised to revolutionize infectious disease diagnostics with a hypothesis-free approach that represents a major paradigm shift for medicine."



Source: Company Press Release