BioNano Genomics hooks $68.4M for tech that spots 'inaccessible genome'

IrysChip V2--Courtesy of BioNano

Gene mapping outfit BioNano Genomics is hoping to set itself apart in the personalized medicine market, where a number of gene sequencing competitors are lining up. To help it get its technology to patients, the San Diego-based company has raised $68.4 million in a series C financing round, according to a regulatory filing.

The round includes $53 million in financing, announced in November. Backed by notable names like Legend Capital and Novartis Venture, BioNano is using the capital to expand commercialization efforts of its Irys platform and to develop next-generation platforms and technology innovations.

In December, the company won public praise for its approach to gene mapping. The Scientist magazine named the company's IrysChip V2 one of the Top 10 Innovations of 2014. The high throughput IrysChip V2 is used with the Irys System to give researchers a rapid, accurate and comprehensive way of identifying structural variation to more effectively drive genomics discoveries.

These structural variations in a person's genome are what the Irys System aims to identify. It's also what makes the company's technology different than other gene sequencing platforms. DNA insertions, deletions and repeats are all examples of such variations, the company said. Such variations are key to understanding, diagnosing and treating many human diseases, according to BioNano. Known as the "inaccessible genome," these structural variations are often missed by existing genomics technology, making BioNano's platform a potential game-changer for patients.

The technology has certainly seemed to win over investor support. In November, the company appointed Darren Cai, executive director at Legend Capital, and Dr. Campbell Murray, managing director at Novartis Venture Fund, to its board of directors.

"BioNano's Irys System enables comprehensive detection of structural variations (SVs), which makes up a substantial portion of genome differences among individuals. The ability to robustly discover SVs is recognized as an essential tool for applications of genomic information in personalized medicine and diagnostics," Cai said in a previous statement. "We see genome mapping as a large, high-growth market that complements and broadens the sequencing market."

A company spokesperson told GenomeWeb that, so far, 32 institutions in the U.S., Europe, and Asia-Pacific region have adopted 34 Irys systems.

Meanwhile, competition is heating up in the next-gen sequencing space with heavyweight Illumina ($ILMN) gaining a big chunk of the market and other companies like Enzymatics moving into the arena.

- here's the SEC filing