Sanger Institute genomics spinout shuts doors after funding faucet dries up

14M Genomics is to close a little more than a year after raising $17.4 million. The cancer genomics player, which was founded by the director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, made the decision after its sole financial backer, Syncona Partners, refused to provide more money.

Syncona Partners helped 14M Genomics get started in December 2014. At that time, the plan was for 14M Genomics to tap the Sanger Institute's sequencing and bioinformatics capabilities to create linked genomic and clinical data sets covering major cancers, a resource the team behind the startup thought could enable patient stratification. Since then, interest in the sort of precision medicine such stratification can support has ramped up. Yet, as President Obama was preparing to talk up precision medicine on one side of the Atlantic, 14M Genomics was winding down on the other. 

14M Genomics Chairman Andrew Sandham, who was a partner at Syncona Partners until late last year, revealed the action in a brief note on the company's website: "We were informed recently that Syncona LLP, the sole investor in 14M Genomics, is not prepared to provide further financial support to the company. The Syncona decision followed a review of priorities within the existing Syncona portfolio. Having carefully considered the options available, the board of 14M Genomics has decided to effect an orderly close down of the business operations."

Given the credentials of the people behind 14M Genomics, the sizable sum it raised just 14 months ago and its involvement at the intersection of the hot fields of cancer, genomics and bioinformatics, its sudden closure is surprising. The situation appears to have evolved quickly. A job advert for a senior statistician was posted earlier this month. And the 14M Genomics website still listed vacancies in five positions just days before the notice about the closure went live. 14M had planned to start providing clinical diagnostic services this year.

- read the statement