Roche helps genomics software player Omicia to $23M Series B

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Omicia has raised $23 million from Roche’s ($RHHBY) venture fund and other investors. The Series B round will support the expansion of Omicia’s NGS interpretation and reporting capabilities into new sectors, including clinical trials and life science research.

Oakland, CA-based Omicia is positioned at the intersection of sequencing tools and clinical decision-making, a point in the genomics process that could undermine the promise of precision medicine unless tools are adopted to smooth the transition. In Opal, a platform underpinned by a variant data warehouse, Omicia thinks it possesses such a tool. Opal was initially pitched as a way for clinical labs to perform diagnostic reporting without running in-house software pipelines.

Omicia has persuaded Roche Venture Fund, an unidentified “large genomics investor” and a clutch of other backers of the merits of its technology, resulting in it raising $23 million in a Series B round. The money will go toward an escalation of product development activities, plus the expansion of the use of Opal into areas of genomics beyond clinical testing laboratories. Life science research and clinical trials are high on the hit list.

Versions of Opal pitched at these sectors are already available. Opal Research, which lists the J. Craig Venter Institute and National Genetics Institute among its users, is designed to help researchers identify causative variants, evaluate links between genes and disease and share data with collaborators. Opal Clinical Trials takes the same underlying technology and aims it at the pressure points of human research in the era of precision medicine, such as the need to identify patients who are most likely to respond to an experimental therapy.

The group of investors Omicia has put together for the Series B could help facilitate its advance in these and other areas, both through their money and business experience. Adding Roche’s VC fund to its list of backers gives Omicia a link to a major player in clinical trials and research. And the involvement of UPMC and Ping An Insurance connect Omicia to the U.S. healthcare system and Chinese insurance market, respectively.

While the end markets of the backers differ, their attraction to Omicia has a common root. “Genome sequencing, combined with machine-learning algorithms and powerful data analytics, will provide physicians with more complete, actionable insights at a reasonable cost,” Stu Peterson, co-founder and senior partner at Artis Ventures, said in a statement.

Artis, the Bay Area VC shop that backed Stemcentrx on route to its $10.2 billion takeover by AbbVie ($ABBV), was the first institutional investor to commit cash to Omicia.

- read the release

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