Freenome Raises $270 Million to Advance Colorectal Cancer Liquid Biopsy
South San Francisco-based Freenome closed on an oversubscribed $270 million Series C financing. The round was led by new investor Bain Capital Life Sciences and existing investor Perceptive Advisors. Joining them were new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company, Janus Henderson Investors, Farallon Capital Management, Rock Springs Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, EcoR1 Capital, Catalio Capital Management and the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.
Existing investors participated as well, including RA Capital Management, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, American Cancer Society’s BrightEdge Ventures, Sands Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, DCVC, GV, Kaiser Permanent Ventures, Novartis, Polaris Partners, Roche Venture Fund, Soleus Capital and Section 32.
Freenome focuses on early cancer detection on a standard blood draw using a comprehensive multiomics platform. To date, the company has raised more than $500 million.
Freenome plans to use the funds to advance the PREEMPT CRC clinical trial of its blood test for colorectal cancer screening and precancerous lesion detection, as well as its pipeline of blood tests for early detection and early intervention for other cancers. It also will continue to develop the multiomics platform.
PREEMPT CRC launched in May 2020. At the time, company chief executive officer Gabriel Otte, noted, “Following strong data presented at ASCO-GI, which demonstrated 91% sensitivity (94% in Stage I/II patients) with 94% specificity for colorectal cancer (CRC), we are initiating the pivotal trial for our blood-based CRC test.”
PREEMPT CRC will enroll 14,000 people to validate the multiomics blood test for CRC screening and FDA approval. The trial will include asymptomatic, average-risk patients ranging in age between 45 and 85 undergoing a screening colonoscopy.
The company also announced today that it has expanded the access to the PREEMPT CRC trial to patients “from nearly any zip code” in the U.S. All eligible 45- to 85-year-old patients in the Continental U.S. can participate. This was partly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, because of a dramatic decline of standard-of-care colonoscopy screening during the crisis.
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the U.S. Michael Sapienza, chief executive officer of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, noted, “And incidence is 20% higher in African Americans, who have also been more severely impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic has only highlighted the need for more accessible and patient-friendly technologies that could significantly increase the number of screenings for CRC, one of the most preventable cancers if more people participated in early screenings.”
Of the financing, Freenome’s chief financial officer, William Quirk, said, “This funding will allow us to execute on our business plans by accelerating the registrational study for our blood test for colorectal cancer screening toward approval, reimbursement, and commercialization while, at the same time, advancing our pipeline of blood tests for screening other cancers. We are well-positioned for Freenome’s next stage of growth, leveraging the full potential of our novel multiomics platform as a disruptive technology for cancer screening.”
Ellen Hukkelhoven, managing director at Perceptive Capital, stated, “Freenome is at an exciting inflection point as it moves its first product through pivotal testing, and we see future opportunities on the horizon to expand its platform to create blood-based screening tests for a range of additional cancers. There is so much untapped potential to bring advanced technology to improve cancer sc