Applied Proteomics bags $28M round to roll out colon cancer test

Applied Proteomics CEO Peter Klemm

San Diego's Applied Proteomics is gearing up to launch its first diagnostic tests, and now the company has $28 million to get it there thanks to a just-closed Series C.

The round, led by Malaysia's Genting Berhad and including existing investors Domain Associates and Vulcan Capital, follows a $22.5 million Series B closed last year.

Applied Proteomics has spent years developing molecular diagnostic tools that detect the earliest stages of disease by reading conversations between bodily proteins, an approach the company says could help identify ailments faster than current methods and save millions of dollars in healthcare costs. Now, with another $28 million in the bag, Applied Proteomics can move toward commercialization, starting with a blood test for pre-cursors to colorectal cancer, CEO Peter Klemm said.

"The market potential is huge," Klemm told FierceBiotech Editor-in-Chief John Carroll, declining to give any projections on actual sales. There's more validation work to be done, he explained. Current guidelines recommend a colonoscopy once every 10 years for people over the age of 50, but the CEO notes that there are 44 million Americans who ignore that recommendation.

A test that flags the risk of colon cancer could motivate them to get a colonoscopy, and insurers would benefit by shifting patients into preventive programs rather than waiting for cancer to advance.

In the meantime, Applied Proteomics is building a high-capacity lab to prepare for all the tests it'll have to process once it gets on the market, and the company will pour some of its fundraising haul into R&D for more protein-based diagnostic tools targeting chronic conditions.

Klemm came aboard as Applied Proteomics closed its Series B in February 2012, following stints as CEO of Predictive Biosciences and chief of GeneOhm Sciences before its 2002 acquisition by Becton Dickinson ($BDX).

- read the announcement

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Applied Proteomics CEO Peter Klemm.