Monday, February 24, 2020

Karius Raises $165M for Microbial NGS Sequencing

From Reuters and other newswires, Bay Area molecular diagnostics startup KARIUS raises $165M in a Series B funding round.   Karius provides overnight assessment of the complete blood microbiome (1200 pathogens).    

Reuters here.
TechCrunch here.
Fierce Biotech here.
The company's website is here

See a detailed 2019 paper on analytical and clinical validation in Nature Microbiology, open access, Blauwkamp et al., here.

Excerpt from Tech Crunch:
“What Karius is good at is identifying those novel microbes before they become an outbreak like coronavirus,” says Mickey Kertesz, a chief executive whose life sciences startup just hauled in $165 million in new funding.
While the new money may have been raised under the looming threat of Covid 19, the company’s technology is already being used to test for infection-causing pathogens in immunocompromised pediatric patients, and for potential causes of complex pneumonia, fungal infections and endocarditis, according to a statement from the company. 
Liquid biopsy technology has been widely embraced in cancer treatments as a way to identify which therapies may work best for patients based on the presence of trace amounts of genetic material in a patient’s bloodstream that are shed by cancer cells.
Karius applies the same principles to the detection of pathogens in the blood — developing hardware and software that applies DNA sequencing and machine learning techniques to identify the genetic material that’s present in a blood sample.
As the company explains, microbes infecting the human body leave traces of their DNA in blood, which are called microbial cell-free DNA (mcfDNA). The company’s test can measure the cell-free DNA of more than 1,000 clinically relevant samples from things like bacteria, DNA viruses, fungi and parasites. These tests indicate the types of quantities of those pathogens that are likely affecting a patient. 
“We’re through the early stages of adoption and clinical studies show that the technology literally saves lives,” says Kertesz.

click to enlarge.  OGrady/Nature here.