Invitae's $40M Series E adds rocket fuel to genetic test expansion plans

Invitae's gene-sequencing tests are built to help physicians and genetic counselors screen for almost innumerable genetic disorders, and executives have decided they need to go global. The San Francisco startup bills the technology as an affordable alternative; a new $40 million Series E round will help get the word out and fuel the ramp-up of sales and new development.

It's a pretty ambitious goal. The company, which spun off from Genomic Health ($GHDX) nearly two years ago, wants to aggregate more than 3,000 assays for known inherited conditions into a single assay. And while Invitae doesn't offer specifics, it claims such a test would cost less than a number of single-gene tests (under $1,000) and would cover hereditary disorders including cancer and cardiac, neurological and pediatric conditions, spokeswoman Lisa Alderson told FierceDiagnostics.

"We will also expand our international presence to better service patients around the globe in need of an affordable alternative," she explained via email.

Invitae has already taken some major steps forward in its short history. Alderson said the company's full test menu is run through its CLIA-certified laboratory in San Francisco. Also, Invitae is "establishing a state-of-the-art facility in Santiago, Chile, to serve a global customer base," she noted. The ultimate goal, founder and CEO Randy Scott said in a statement, is to succeed in "transforming multi-use genetic testing into routine medical practice."

A small part of Invitae's broader gene-sequencing program is facing some legal pushback. Myriad Genetics ($MYGN) is suing the company for alleged patent violation concerning its tests focused, in part, on BRCA cancer mutations. Myriad had been the leader in the field, but a U.S. Supreme Court decision over the summer upheld some of the company's patents and overturned others, opening up the market to BRCA-related test competition. Myriad is also suing a number of other competitors over the same issue.

Alderson explained that Myriad's lawsuit only affects its BRCA and MUTYH genetic tests.

"Invitae plans to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit, which it believes has no merit," she added.

Genomic Health participated in the $40 million Series E, along with CEO Randy Scott, Thomas McNerney & Partners, Redmile Group, Genesys Capital, Casdin Capital and others.

- read the release
- here's FierceMedicalDevices' take

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