Michigan startup nabs $12M Series A to match cancer patients to trials with free sequencing for 100,000

It's difficult for oncology clinical trials to identify and recruit patients for inclusion who have particular, relevant genomic tumor profiles. Startup Strata Oncology has launched with a $12 million Series A and a partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific ($TMO) with the intention of enabling that process. It aims to offer free tumor sequencing to 100,000 cancer patients in the effort to help biopharma find the right patients for clinical trials.

Starting early next year, Strata aims to launch this massive effort to help characterize the mutations causing cancer. The Ann Arbor, MI-based company hopes to characterize a wide range of these mutations and to match patients with appropriate clinical trials. It expects to conduct the trial through more than 100 partner hospitals and cancer centers in the U.S. The first 50 sites are expected to be selected this year.

Strata CEO Dan Rhodes

"For most cancer patients in the U.S., tumor sequencing is not standard of care, so patients remain unaware of their eligibility for promising precision medicine clinical trials," said Strata co-founder and CEO Rhodes in a statement. "By providing no-cost tumor sequencing for 100,000 cancer patients, Strata intends to be the catalyst, helping patients find the right trials and helping pharma find the right patients."

Rhodes was also the co-founder and CEO of Compendia Bioscience, which sold for an undisclosed sum to Life Technologies in 2012. Dr. Keith Flaherty, an oncologist from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General, and pathologist Dr. Scott Tomlins from the University of Michigan Medical School are also Strata co-founders. The former is a precision oncology clinical trials specialist, while the latter focuses on tumor sequencing and molecular oncology.

Under the deal, Thermo Fisher will serve as the technology provider for Strata; it will provide its Ion S5 XL next-generation sequencing systems, AmpliSeq technology and Oncomine assays.

"Thermo Fisher is committed to enabling its growing list of strategic partners to drive the era of precision medicine through its targeted, next-generation sequencing technology, which will help laboratories and clinicians provide the best oncology treatment possible in the future," said Thermo Fisher President of Clinical Sequencing Joe Bernardo.

Arboretum Ventures and Baird Capital co-led the venture round, with additional funding from existing investor Michigan eLab. Jan Garfinkle of Arboretum and Nicole Walker of Baird are joining the Strata board.

- here is the announcement