Genomic test prep company Purigen reels in $18.2M in Roche-led Series A round

Purigen Biosystems CEO Klint Rose

Genomic test prep company Purigen Biosystems reeled in $18.2 million in a Series A round to support development of its benchtop testing technology.

Roche Venture Fund ($RHHBY) and 5AM Ventures led the round. Existing investors including Stanford-Startx Fund and Western Investments Capital also chipped in funds.

The Pleasanton, CA-based company plans to use the cash to spur R&D and commercialization for its Purigen benchtop technology. The automated platform uses a microfluidic chip to purify and quantitate nucleic samples from a variety of sources, including tissue biopsies and buccal swabs.

"Purigen's technology accommodates multiple sample types including new applications that are difficult or impossible to address in today's genomics testing," Purigen CEO Klint Rose said in a statement. "Our proprietary isotachophoresis (ITP) technology enables purification and quantitation of nucleic acid with dramatically increased yields and improved purity from a wide variety of samples including liquid biopsies, fresh or formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues, buccal swabs, and cultured or sorted cells."

Purigen has already charted some success with its technology. The company is touting "incredibly positive" results for its platform in early prototype testing at independent academic and clinical labs, Purigen said in a statement. Encouraged by those findings, the company plans to place commercial systems during the first half of 2017.

Investors seem to think that Purigen is headed for good things. Genomic and genetic testing are expanding "at an enormous rate," especially in research, drug development and clinical markets, Andy Schwab, founder and managing partner at 5AM Ventures, said in a statement. "Purigen can fill critical needs in these workflows and enhance the promise that genomics brings to life sciences and healthcare markets worldwide," Schwab said.

As part of the recent financing, Purigen will also add some members to its board of directors, including Schwab. Tracy Saxton, the investment director at Roche Venture Fund; Bill Colston, CEO of HealthTell; and Joe Victor, former CEO of DVS Sciences, will also join Purigen's board. Victor will assume the role of executive chairman, the company said in a statement.

- here's the release