Freenome scores $254M to advance its cancer-detection blood tests

Anna Vod · February 27, 2024 · Short URL:

The San Francisco company readies to reveal its first clinical study results in the near term

When it comes to cancer, spotting it early can make a big difference on treatment options and survival. Commonly a progressive disease, certain untreated tumors destroy your body with time – and it’s one of the main causes of death worldwide. They say, in fact, that anyone living long enough will develop cancer, and the older you get, the greater your risks.

Seeking to increase the human lifespan, many companies today are applying innovative technologies to detect cancer early and have bigger chances at fighting it. This San Francisco-based company, Freenome, recently raised new capital as it develops blood tests on its multiomics platform.

This month, Freenome announced it raised an additional $254 million from prominent investors as it moves forward with clinical programs.

Leading the round was Swiss biotech giant Roche; other investors were a16z Life Sciences Growth Fund, the American Cancer Society's BrightEdge Ventures, Cathie Wood’s ARK Invest, Denver-based ArrowMark Partners, Artis Ventures in San Francisco, Bain Capital Life Sciences, Cormorant Asset Management, DCVC, Eventide Asset Management LLC and Polaris Partners in Boston, Intermountain Ventures in Salt Lake City, Perceptive Advisors and Pura Vida Investments in New York, Quest Diagnostics, RA Capital Management, Sands Capital in Arlington, VA, Section 32 in San Diego, Squarepoint Capital, T. Rowe Price Associates accounts, and others.  

Freenome aims to make screening easy and accessible for everyone. To find the subtlest signs of cancer at its earliest stage, the company is applying a multimodal approach, converging several technologies: computational biology, machine learning, and multiple data types.

Launched in 2014, Freenome surpassed $1 billion in funding back in 2022. Much of it came from Roche, where Freenome CEO Mike Nolan served previously.

The new capital, Freenome said in a statement, enables it to advance the pipeline of single-cancer and tailored multi-cancer early detection tests built on its multiomics platform. This approach, “multiomics,” implies the integration of several types of data. In Freenome’s case, it’s proteomics – protein research, transcriptomics – RNA molecules research, genomics – the study of genetic material, or DNA, methylomic – for DNA methylation, and others.

Freenome has developed several blood-based tests via its multiomics approach, for colorectal and lung cancers, as well as for multiple types of cancer. The company has been conducting clinical testing involving 40,000 participants to validate its blood test for the early detection of colorectal cancer and anticipates to release the results in the first half of 2024. Colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest, while early detection and treatment may raise the survival rate to 90%, if localized.

Since December 2023, Freenome has a lung cancer study underway as well, and is now actively recruiting participants in the U.S., targeting to enroll 20,000 participants.

To push forward its clinical studies for multiple types of cancer and make the tests widely accessible, Freenome partnered with Walgreens and healthcare providers around the nation for the recruitment of patients across diverse communities. The company is also working with Walgreens on building risk-prediction models and population health software in aim to help close existing care gaps, according to an official statement from both companies.

CEO Nolan said in the release: "We are grateful for the support and confidence of our investors. Together, we share a commitment to addressing the pressing need for better cancer screening solutions as we drive to make early cancer detection more convenient, accessible and actionable for everyone.”

Freenome’s chief scientific officer, Jimmy Lin, said that he believes cancer to be solved “in our lifetime.”


Image: Freenome

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