Freenome secures $270M to boost its colorectal cancer blood test, expand trial nationwide

Freenome continues to draw strong financial support for its development work, with $270 million in new funds to push its cancer-detecting blood test through clinical trials and across the finish line at the FDA. 

The latest financing builds upon the $160 million the former Fierce Medtech Fierce 15 winner raised one year ago, which helped support the launch of a registrational study this past May for its “multiomics” test to spot colorectal cancer and precancerous lesions at times when treatments can do the most good.

The company’s main goal is to make it easier to screen the 45 million or so people who are behind on recommended colorectal cancer exams, such as a colonoscopy, with a front-line blood test. Freenome’s diagnostic searches for direct evidence of tumors as well as signs of the immune system’s response, integrating genomics, transcriptomics, methylomics and proteomics technologies. 

The new series C round, led by Bain Capital Life Sciences and Perceptive Advisors, will also help bankroll the development of new blood tests for additional cancers. Other investors included first-time company backers Fidelity Management & Research, Janus Henderson Investors, Farallon Capital Management, Rock Springs Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, EcoR1 Capital, Catalio Capital Management and the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

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RA Capital Management, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, the American Cancer Society’s BrightEdge Ventures, Sands Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, DCVC, GV, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, Novartis, Polaris Partners, Roche Venture Fund, Soleus Capital and Section 32 also returned to participate in the new round. Freenome has raised a total of $500 million since its 2014 founding.

“Freenome is at an exciting inflection point as it moves its first product through pivotal testing, and we see future opportunities on the horizon to expand its platform to create blood-based screening tests for a range of additional cancers,” said Ellen Hukkelhoven, a managing director at Perceptive, who also joined Freenome’s board of directors. “There is so much untapped potential to bring advanced technology to improve cancer screening and to make testing more accessible and cancer more preventable.” 

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The company’s PREEMPT CRC trial aims to enroll 14,000 participants, and alongside the new financing has now expanded its efforts to recruit patients from nearly everywhere in the U.S. using virtual tools—after many have postponed or canceled their colonoscopy screenings following the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unique challenges for colon and rectal cancer screening that will have a direct impact on health outcomes,” American Cancer Society CEO Gary Reedy said

“Usually, there are 800,000 to 1,000,000 screening colonoscopies per month in the U.S., whereas during the pandemic these numbers have dropped to a fraction of the monthly average,” Reedy added. “We are concerned that more people will experience poor outcomes and death from colorectal cancer as a result of delaying or foregoing screening, so we encourage people to schedule their screening.”