The company will use the funding to expand its technology into CRISPR research
One of the most exciting prospects for healthtech is precision health, which encompasses the move toward tailored and personalized medicine vs a one-size-fits-all approach, but with the emphasis or inclusion of disease prevention and detection vs treatments. For precision health to work it requires a lot of new data, which will then by used to personalize treatment to that particular patient.
Mission Bio is a precision genomics company that which has applied its technology to drive cancer research. On Thursday, it announced that it raised $30 million in Series B funding from Agilent Technologies, Cota Capital, LabCorp, LAM Research Capital, and Mayfield. This new funding brings its total amount raised to more than $50 million.
The San Francisco-based Mission Bio's technology, called the Tapestri Platform, is used by researchers, hospitals and clinicians to detect disease progression and treatment response, inform drug discovery, and verify gene edits.
"Today, precision cancer treatments are hamstrung by their ability to understand the genetic diversity and rare cells in tumors that can drive disease progression. Missing a single cell can be the difference of life and death," Charlie Silver, CEO and Co-founder of Mission Bio, told Vator.
"To address this, Mission Bio has created Tapestri, a single-cell genomic technology that reveals the molecular profile of each individual cell in an actionable timeframe, empowering researchers and clinicians to create precise therapies and detect rare diseased cells that may persist after treatment, causing relapse."
Tapestri is currently being used by more than a dozen cancer centers, including The National Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of California-San Francisco, the University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
"At this point, Mission Bio’s platform has sequenced more than one million cells to-date, and our customers have the capacity to sequence over 10 million in the next two quarters," said Silver.
Unlike other companies in this space, Mission Bio's technology can analyze tens of thousands of individual cells in parallel, which, according to Silver, means that it's 50 times more sensitive than traditional next-generation sequencing techniques.
"Current broad-based sequencing techniques can fail to catch the genetic variations that comprise a tumor, and whole genome sequencing is far too time and cost consuming to be implemented at scale," Silver explained.
"The system targets the genetic variants that are important, providing the highest-resolution picture of disease-relevant cell populations with single-base pair resolution orders of magnitude better than the megabase resolution of other single-cell DNA approaches. Tapestri is the only technology on the market able to resolve every cell, every mutation and every edit."
In one use case, Dr. Ravi Majeti at Stanford conducted several pilot studies using Mission Bio solutions, "garnering insights into clonal variation that couldn’t be gathered using bulk sequencing techniques." By using Tapestri, he was able to identify a cell population making up less than 0.3 percent of the total remission cells which caused a patient’s relapse.
Mission Bio says it will used to funds, in part, to scale the Tapestri Platform by expanding the market for blood cancer research.
"Just recently, we announced product updates to the Tapestri Platform to address a broader set of blood cancers, including a new chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) panel. CLL is a disease for which intratumor heterogeneity is also known to be a driver of both tumor development and treatment resistance. The Tapestri Platform is now compatible with Illumina NovaSeq and HiSeq sequencers, reducing sequencing costs from roughly $1,100 to $200 per run, enabling researchers to do more with their budgets," said Silver.
Mission Bio also recently announced Tapestri Custom Panel Designer, a web-based application enabling researchers to easily design single-cell DNA panels to target their specific regions of interest.
"Leveraging an easy user interface and optimized primer design algorithms, custom targeted panels can be designed quickly and easily to complement Tapestri Single-Cell DNA Catalog Panels."
The money will also go toward broadening Mission Bio's scope to CRISPR applications as well.
"An essential part of understanding how to effectively and safely use CRISPR is detecting both known on-target and off-target effects of gene editing. As CRISPR has been increasingly adopted, one publication after another has come out demonstrating weaknesses, inefficiencies in specificity, and off-target effects in gene editing that haven’t been shown before. And every time a new study comes out, the market comes to us and asks if Tapestri is able to measure that," Silver told me.
"Ultimately, we are the toolset that enables any actions in CRISPR gene editing, to ensure that those behind these experiments can have full confidence in their work. Our single-cell technology provides just this very insight and we’re very excited to expand this area of our business and build on our work with the NIST Gene Editing Consortium."
Finally, the funding will also toward the company's global expansion, specifically building out its base of translational and clinical applications to Europe and Asia Pacific.
"Those markets mark the location of the largest research studies, as well as the largest patient need," Silver explained.
Since founding Mission Bio in 2014, what Silver says he has seen evolve most is the market for these kinds of tools.
"There’s now a need for single-cell tools in translational medicine and clinical settings. We saw an opportunity to apply our high-throughput technology to our current applications in hematology, oncology, and gene editing, and we’re excited to continue expanding this offering across new verticals," he said.
On top of that, sequencing costs have dropped and capacity has increased so that he expect that, in five years, sequencing costs will drop to zero.
"We can leverage those decreasing costs to expand the capabilities of our solution to different analytes, further supporting our push toward the clinic," said Silver. "In five years, we expect half of all sequencing will be single-cell. To that end, Mission Bio is ready to enable the clinical side of that, which is ultimately the highest impact segment of the market."