Sera Prognostics Secures $19.3 Million Series A Funding to Commercialize Preterm Birth Predictor; Appoints Gregory C. Critchfield, MD as Chief Executive Officer
Venture Firms InterWest Partners, Domain Associates and Catalyst Health Ventures Join Board of Directors
SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 15, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sera Prognostics, Inc., a women's health company developing diagnostic tests for early prediction of preterm birth and other pregnancy complications, today announced the closing of a $19.3 million Series A financing led by venture capital firms InterWest Partners, Domain Associates and Catalyst Health Ventures. Also participating in the round are the company's founder, UpStart Life Sciences Capital, and new investor Osage University Partners. In addition, the company announced the appointment of Gregory C. Critchfield, M.D., former president of Myriad Genetic Laboratories, Inc. and current Chairman of Sera's Board of Directors, to Chief Executive Officer. Doug Fisher, M.D. of InterWest Partners, Kim P. Kamdar, Ph.D. of Domain Associates and Joshua Phillips of Catalyst Health Ventures will also be joining Sera's Board.
Sera will use the proceeds of this financing to complete the company's multi-center Proteomic Assessment of Preterm Risk (PAPR) clinical trial of its preterm birth diagnostic and commercially launch the test with the goal of demonstrating clinical benefit and economic savings under real-world conditions.
Prior to joining Sera's Board last year, Dr. Critchfield was president of Myriad Genetic Laboratories. As head of Myriad's diagnostic company for 12 years, he launched seven novel molecular diagnostic products across a variety of technology platforms and presided over annual diagnostic revenue growth from $2 to $326 million. Dr. Critchfield retired from Myriad in March 2010.
"The value of Sera's proprietary technology has been firmly established in the literature and, with the PAPR clinical trial underway, the company is well positioned to enter the women's health marketplace," said Doug Fisher, M.D., principal, InterWest Partners. "Greg Critchfield's wealth of diagnostics and women's health experience, coupled with his proven leadership, give Sera the strong foundation it needs to succeed."
"More than 80 percent of women who have a preterm birth are not identified using current technologies," said Kim P. Kamdar, Ph.D., partner, Domain Associates. "There is a significant unmet need in women's health care today to reliably and quantitatively assess a woman's individual risk of preterm birth before threatening symptoms arise. Domain saw a tremendous opportunity for Sera to address this need by developing a simple, non-invasive, highly sensitive early risk predictor for preterm birth. We believe that this test has the potential to reduce the number of preterm births as well as the resulting high costs involved in neonatal care."
Since completing a $1.4 million Series A-1 financing in October 2010, data with Sera's biomarkers from an initial study of preterm birth were published in the peer-reviewed journal American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in May 2011 and data from a second study were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in February 2011. Sera's ongoing multi-center clinical study is currently enrolling patients from highly respected sites across the U.S. and will provide prospective blood samples collected at multiple points during pregnancy. Results from this and other planned studies will be used to support the translation of Sera's proprietary technology into a commercial format that is clinically validated prior to launch.
"We are excited to see these experienced investors, who are dedicated to medical diagnostics and personalized medicine, strongly support Sera's mission," said Dr. Critchfield, Sera's Chairman and CEO. "They clearly recognize the value of, and need for, an accurate diagnostic to objectively quantify a woman's risk for preterm birth early enough to intervene appropriately. Having this critical information early in pregnancy can help physicians to better manage patients' care, potentially improving the quality of life for newborns, and reducing the time spent in neonatal intensive care units at a high cost to insurers and our health care system. With this new funding, we anticipate completing our current clinical study by the end of 2012 and bringing our test to market shortly thereafter."
About Preterm Birth:
Of the 4.1 million annual births in the U.S., approximately one in eight babies, or 12 percent, is born premature each year. Preterm birth is the leading cause of illness and death in newborns and is associated with a significantly increased risk of major long-term childhood medical complications including learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, chronic respiratory illness, mental retardation, seizures and vision and hearing loss. According to a study by the March of Dimes, the annual public health care cost of caring for preterm infants in the U.S. is over $26 billion. Additional lifetime costs for children with preterm birth-related medical complications are estimated at approximately $500,000 per child.
About Sera Prognostics, Inc.
Sera Prognostics is a private biotechnology company developing diagnostic tests that use proprietary biomarkers that are predictive of preterm birth and other pregnancy complications. Sera was founded by UpStart Life Science Capital in 2008 and licensed the company's serum proteomics discovery technology and novel peptides from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. The company has assembled a strong management team and Board of Directors with significant clinical development and women's health care diagnostic experience. Sera is located in Salt Lake City, Utah; for more information, please visit the company's website at www.seraprognostics.com.
About InterWest Partners
For 30 years InterWest Partners (www.interwest.com) has partnered with exceptional entrepreneurs to build winning technology and life sciences companies. With more than 200 years of combined operating and investing experience, InterWest's team has raised $2.8B, completed more than 70 IPOs, and participated in nearly 60 upside acquisitions. As the firm invests InterWest X, a $650M fund, InterWest continues to believe that providing capital is just the beginning of a long-term collaboration with entrepreneurs to turn their vision into a thriving company.
About Domain Associates
Founded in 1985, Domain Associates, L.L.C. is a venture capital firm with an exclusive focus on life sciences and $2.4 billion of capital under management. Domain's major investment segments are biotech, medical devices and diagnostics while additional areas of interest include biomaterials, bioinstrumentation, and specialty pharmaceuticals. The Partners of Domain have a total of close to 200 person-years of experience among them in the healthcare/venture capital industries and have been involved in the formation and growth of more than 235 life-sciences companies. The highly focused network, experience, and reputation of this team have made it one of the top private-equity groups participating in the healthcare field.
About Catalyst Health Ventures
Catalyst Health Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm targeting technology solutions applied within the health care and life science industries. At the core of its strategy is a committed, hands-on approach to working with management and syndicate partners to build successful companies. Our disciplined investment process leverages both intellectual and financial capital to originate investments, cultivate opportunities, and realize the full potential of emerging ventures in the health care and life science marketplace. For more information on Catalyst Health Ventures, visit: www.catalysthealthventures.com.