Freenome raises $160m to advance blood testing platform that de-risks drug development, says CEO

By Melissa Fassbender contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa)
(Image: Getty/Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa)

Related tags: AI, Genomics, CRO, Freenome

Freenome is working with a CRO as part of a clinical trial evaluating the company’s multi-omics blood testing platform – which the CEO says helps de-risk drug development by characterizing likely responders to therapy, among other use cases.

According to the company, it is currently collaborating with academic and pharmaceutical partners to identify new therapeutic targets, discover new biomarkers, analyze resistance pathways, and predict responses for immuno-oncology and epigenetic modifiers.

The San Francisco, CA-headquartered company this week closed a $160m Series B financing round, bringing its total financing to date to $238m.

The funds will be used to advance Freenome’s platform, which, according to the company, detects biological signals from routine blood draws, integrating assays for cell-free DNA, methylation, and proteins with computational biology and machine learning techniques. It also will be used to expand Freenome’s laboratory infrastructure.

Additionally, the financing will support a pivotal validation study of the company’s colorectal cancer screening test, for which Freenome will submit an application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Parallel Review Program.

“The platform will be able to help biopharma refine biomarker development alongside drug development in an efficient, hypothesis-free, and cost-effective manner,” ​said Freenome CEO and Co-founder Gabe Otte, adding that the platform provides a “de-risking strategy to accelerate drug development by characterizing likely responders to therapy.”

According to Otte, the company is able to look at “a multitude of signatures,”​ including DNA, RNA and proteins, from a single tube of blood. “The insights you can gather when you have so much data in every patient has been incredible,”​ he added. 

Freenome is currently partnering with biopharma focused on “key clinical touch points”​ after a patient is diagnosed with cancer and expects to share more news related to this later in the year, said Otte.

“Overall our short-term goal is to provide biopharma access to the multiomics platform and database to help pioneer earlier intervention of cancer with novel treatments in development such as those in the adjuvant setting,”​ he added.

“The hope is one day when Freenome's non-invasive screening tests are on the market that Freenome in partnership with biopharma can not only catch preventable cancers early but support patients through the next steps of treatment, to maximize our impact towards eradicating cancer.”

The company’s ‘AI-Emerge’ study is being conducted in partnership with the contract research organization (CRO) Health Decisions and is the first of the company’s ‘AI-Patterns’ series of clinical studies. The study aims to collect samples from up to 3,000 patients in the US and Canada.

The recent financing was led by RA Capital Management and Polaris Partners. New investors which joined include Perceptive Advisors, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Roche Venture Fund, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and the American Cancer Society’s BrightEdge Ventures.

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

Related topics: Clinical Development, Phase I-II

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