IDbyDNA has raised $9 million to develop its metagenomics analysis software and introduce clinical tests for infectious diseases. The round was led by Artis Ventures, a small VC shop that has won big in the past with investments in companies as diverse as YouTube and Stemcentrx.
YouTube and Stemcentrx went on to be bought, respectively, by Google ($GOOG) for $1.65 billion and AbbVie for up to $10 billion, setting the bar high for IDbyDNA. While IDbyDNA may never be linked to those sort of buyout figures, its leaders think they have a shot at being the company that makes the identification of pathogens from samples faster and more accurate through the use of NGS and data analytics.
The founding team at IDbyDNA has the credentials to back up claims about the potential impact of the company. Guochun Liao lists stints at Stanford University, Centrillion Biosciences and as head of computational genomics at Roche’s ($RHHBY) Palo Alto outpost on his résumé. Fellow cofounders Robert Schlaberg, Mark Yandell and Martin Reese made their names at organizations including ARUP Laboratories, J. Craig Venter’s Celera Genomics and Omicia.
Backed by the expertise and experience of its founders, IDbyDNA has worked since 2014 to develop tools to improve the detection of infectious diseases. That represents a sizable opportunity, from a financial and public health perspective.
“Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death. The key to successful, cost-effective treatment of these infections is rapid and accurate detection, especially in cases where traditional tests have proven uninformative,” IDbyDNA Cofounder and CEO Guochun Liao said in a statement. “Our approach combines the latest genome science with cutting-edge computer search technologies.”
The first manifestation of this approach is Taxonomer, software that uses a reference database to classify the taxonomy of microorganisms detected by NGS. Having introduced the software in May, IDbyDNA claims employees of more than 150 businesses, academic centers and government institutions have signed up to use the system.
IDbyDNA will use some of the $9 million to improve Taxonomer. That is expected to leave some cash for the development of metagenomics-based clinical tests.