Qiagen backs liquid biopsy startup Exosome in $60M Series B

Exosome CEO John Boyce

Diagnostics giant Qiagen ($QGEN) has joined the syndicate of Exosome Diagnostics--helping to distinguish this liquid biopsy startup from its growing crowd of peers. The pair are already partnered under a 2014 lung cancer diagnostic development deal. The Cambridge, MA-based startup has raised a $60 million Series B round to launch its liquid biopsy test via its CLIA-certified lab as well as to seek out companion diagnostics deals with biopharmas.

The startup aims to reduce or eliminate the need for tissue biopsies via its analysis of exosomes, which are released by all living cells into biofluids, such as plasma and serum in the blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid and saliva, and contain RNA, DNA and proteins from their cells of origin. This will be the first commercial liquid biopsy to combine an analysis of RNA and DNA, the company said. The initial test offering includes prostate cancer, lung cancer and solid tumors.

"Our proprietary technology platform and exosomal expertise has made Exosome Diagnostics a leader in developing biofluid-based molecular diagnostics with performance superior to that of cell free DNA platforms alone," said Exosome President and CEO John Boyce in a statement.

He added, "With our financial resources and commercial, development and regulatory teams in place, we are poised to launch the first ever combined RNA plus DNA liquid biopsy based commercial diagnostics tests, as well as potential companion diagnostic programs with pharma, to fully exploit the value of our robust, sensitive, liquid biopsy based approach."

The company's cancer technology analyzes exosomal RNA for biomarkers and also includes cell-free DNA to enhance the detection of rare mutations. These biomarkers are expected to be useful for potential biopharmaceutical partners in the process of drug development.

Exosome also expects its technology will be useful for molecular tests in noncancer indications including inflammatory, metabolic, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and others.

The financing included Forbion Capital Partners, NGN Capital and CD Ventures, as well as new investors Qiagen, Arcus Ventures, Tiger Management and Blue Ridge Capital. This is the final close on a financing that initially rolled out over the last few years.

- here is the announcement