Sera gets $1.4M to develop preterm birth risk technology

Biomarkers are all about early detection of diseases or conditions--detection so early, in fact, that it almost seems like prediction. That's how Salt Lake City-based Sera Prognostics, which just attracted $1.4 million in Series A-1 financing, describes its technology. Sera is developing a blood test that measures biomarkers that are "highly predictive" of preterm birth risk.

The biomarkers were identified by Steven Graves, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Brigham Young University, and M. Sean Esplin, an associate professor and high-risk obstetrician at the University of Utah School of Medicine and co-founder of Sera, according to a report on GenomeWeb.

About 12 percent, or 525,000, of the 4.5 million U.S. births every year result in early deliveries, according to Sera. "These babies face a high risk of serious health complications and preterm birth can incur significant medical costs," Esplin tells VentureWire.

UpStart Ventures and Catalyst Health Ventures led the round, along with individual investors. "In addition to demonstrating the potential of the preterm birth biomarkers in two independent studies, Sera has assembled a management team and board of directors with significant clinical development and women's healthcare diagnostics experience," said Dennis Farrar, a partner with UpStart Ventures who also serves as Sera's chairman and chief executive officer, according to Globe Newswire.

According to Sera, peptides that are only detectable in pregnant women have been tested in two blinded, case-controlled studies using blood samples and other clinical data collected during the NICHD Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network Preterm Prediction Study. Results of each of these studies show that Sera was able to identify greater than 90 percent of women that went on to have a preterm birth, when tested at 24 and 28 weeks of gestation.

- get the Sera release
- read the GlobeNewsWire report
- and on GenomeWeb