Cancer blood test developer Grail is reportedly considering whether to squeeze in yet another billion-dollar funding round before it goes public in Hong Kong later this year, according to Bloomberg.
The company is working to develop and validate a gene-sequencing test to detect cancer cells in the bloodstream before symptoms appear—and plans to recruit over 130,000 patients in years-long studies to support the effort.
Grail already boasts investors including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the two richest people in the world, as well as leading Chinese internet provider Tencent and some of the largest Big Pharma companies. Early last year, Grail announced it raised $900 million in series B financing to support its trials.
The decisions to proceed with the new funding round, as well as its size and timing, are currently in the preliminary stages, Bloomberg reported. However, the company does plan to launch its first product, an early screening test for nasopharyngeal cancer, in Asia later this year.
Earlier this week, the company reported initial data from three prototype genome sequencing assays that it says demonstrate the feasibility of a blood test to screen for multiple cancer types with a low chance of false positives.
The data were gathered from over 1,450 participants in the Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas study, which hopes to enroll at least 15,000 subjects and be completed by 2023. The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Grail’s second study, STRIVE, aims to follow more than 120,000 women over at least five years to assess its ability to detect breast cancer before symptoms emerge.
Meanwhile, Grail has seen a few changes in leadership over the past year, recently bringing on Roche’s former head of global clinical operations, Jennifer Cook, as its new CEO.
Cook replaced Grail’s interim chief Bill Rastetter, who took over after founding CEO Jeff Huber stepped down last August. Rastetter continues as chairman of the board of directors, with ex-Google executive Huber serving as vice chairman.