Cue Health raises $100M to boost portable coronavirus test development

Portable testing company Cue Health has raised $100 million in new venture capital funding shortly after acquiring a U.S. government contract to develop a rapid, point-of-care coronavirus diagnostic.

The proceeds will be put toward plans to double the company’s footprint in San Diego, home to its manufacturing and business operations, scaling up to over 110,000 square feet. This will support the development and commercialization of a cartridge-based COVID-19 test, currently under emergency authorization review by the FDA.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a rapid, easy-to-use platform for diagnostics in decentralized settings to respond to existing and emerging threats,” Cue’s co-founder and CEO, Ayub Khattak, said in a statement.

“Healthcare settings such as nursing homes, emergency departments, and community health clinics need tools to allow them to access molecular test information immediately rather than waiting hours or days for lab results,” Khattak said.

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The series C round was backed by Decheng Capital, Foresite Capital, Madrone Capital Partners, ACME Capital, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and others. 

In mid-March, Cue was awarded a $13 million contract from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, to develop a portable COVID-19 test that could provide a result in under 25 minutes from a nasal swab.

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Cue has worked with BARDA since 2018, following a $30 million contract to develop a similar test for influenza A and B designed for use at the point-of-care or at home through an online service. That test is currently undergoing clinical testing.

“We are excited to welcome strong healthcare and life-science focused investors that align with our vision for how diagnostics should evolve,” Khattak said. “Ultimately, broad distribution of the connected Cue platform to both healthcare professionals and consumers will enable a new model of rapid, on-demand diagnostic testing and enhanced telemedicine capabilities, changing the way important health information is accessed and acted on.”