23andMe adds chapter to comeback story with $115M in funding

23andMe President Andy Page

23andMe reeled in $115 million in Series E financing to support new business initiatives and R&D, giving the company a boost as it forges ahead with its plans to restore growth.

Fidelity Management & Research Company led the round, with new investors such as Casdin Capital and WuXi Healthcare Ventures and existing investors including sequencing giant Illumina ($ILMN), New Enterprise Associates and Google Ventures ($GOOG) chipping in funds. The latest financing brings 23andMe's total raised to $241 million.

The Mountain View, CA-based company will use funds to roll out a new user experience for its direct-to-consumer test by the end of this year, offering carrier status reports in the U.S. and additional tools and functionality to consumers. 23andMe also plans to funnel cash toward infrastructure, building a new lab space for therapeutic research, a next-generation sequencing lab and making "other investments in long-term growth," the company said in a statement.

"23andMe pioneered the personal genetics industry. Our efforts to enable individuals to access, understand and benefit from the human genome have achieved a level of scale that will enable us to further advance genetic research and drug discovery around the world," 23andMe President Andy Page said in a statement. "This round of funding will enable us to further our vision for long term growth in our consumer and therapeutic businesses."

23andMe's $99 genetic test.--Courtesy of 23andMe

23andMe has come a long way since falling out of the FDA's good graces two years ago. In 2013, the agency slapped the company with a warning letter for its $99 genetic tests, accusing it of selling its direct-to-consumer (DTC) spit tests without proper approval or data. 23andMe then pulled its TV, web and radio ads for the test.

But the company persevered, striking deals with biopharma heavyweights to diversify its offerings and eventually making good with the FDA. In February, 23andMe got the agency's blessing to market its DTC carrier test for Bloom syndrome, a rare disease that primarily affects individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. The FDA signoff made the company the first to have a DTC genetic test cleared for consumers.

A month after the FDA OK, 23andMe launched a new therapeutics group with Genentech vet Dr. Richard Scheller at its helm. The group plans to use human genetic data to identify new therapies for common and rare diseases, accelerating drug development and bringing validated targets to partners, Page told FierceDiagnostics at the time.

23andMe already counts a number of biopharma partnerships to its name, including one with Genentech for Parkinson's R&D and another with Pfizer ($PFE) to study the genetic profile of lupus patients. With new funding in tow and a swath of collaborations underway, 23andMe seems poised for its next chapter.

- read 23andMe's statement

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