Sands, Sequoia lead precision oncology player to $27.4M Series B round

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Sands Capital Ventures and Sequoia India have led precision oncology player Mitra Biotech to a $27.4 million Series B round. Mitra will use the cash to support the global commercialization of CANScript, an assay designed to predict how a patient will respond to different cancer drugs.

Today, the technology is available for clinical use in India--Mitra has an office in Bangalore--and for research purposes in the U.S.. Now, with Sands and Sequoia joining with existing investors Accel Partners and Tata Capital Innovations Fund to funnel $27.4 million into Mitra, the 6-year-old MIT spinout is preparing to take its technology global. The U.S. is the first, but not the only, target market.

“We are also working with select distributors in a few other European countries to make Canscript available to them, initially through our Boston facility and later through a European centre of excellence, to be developed in 2017,” Mitra CEO Mallik Sundaram told The Times of India.

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The expansion plan is underpinned by a belief that CANScript can identify which patients will respond to a therapy, both in routine medical practice and clinical trials. CANScript is designed to facilitate such precision medicine by providing an in vitro replica of a patient’s tumor microenvironment. When CANScript is exposed to a drug regimen, Mitra tracks certain parameters that it uses to calculate a single score of the likelihood the tumor will respond to treatment.

The size of the Series B represents a vote of confidence in the technology from some notable VCs. Mitra has been somewhat cagey about the size of its earlier rounds, but VC tracker CrunchBase puts the total prior to the Series B at approximately $7 million. With the Series B dialing up its financial firepower, Mitra now plans to embark on its commercialization plans in parallel to a push to expand its capabilities.

“Going beyond CANScript, we are positioning the company as a leader in therapy selection in cancer. With that in mind, we are developing additional technologies in house and are on the lookout for acquisitions of externally developed technologies,” Sundaram said.