In recent years, startups using artificial intelligence to develop liquid biopsy tests for cancer have attracted large hauls of medtech venture capital. In fact, four of the industry’s five largest VC rounds of 2020 went to companies developing AI platforms to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.
And 2021, it seems, will be no different. Joining the ranks of the year’s most successful fundraisers so far is InterVenn Biosciences, which—like Grail, Freenome, Thrive Earlier Detection and so many others before it—is using AI to delve deep into our molecular makeup to spot signs of cancer and predict treatment response.
InterVenn’s platform performs glycoproteomic analysis, meaning that it goes beyond genomic and even proteomic analysis to study instead the carbohydrate structures called glycans that latch on to proteins and, according to InterVenn, contain a wealth of information about a person’s unique genetic and cellular makeup.
That analysis is done with the help of AI and mass spectrometry technologies. The platform identifies patient-specific cancer biomarkers and uses those to develop liquid biopsy tests to both detect cancer and determine how well each patient will respond to available treatments.
Building on recent studies showcasing the success of its liquid biopsy tests, InterVenn has now raised $201 million to continue developing the glycoproteomics platform and more diagnostic assays.
The series C round was co-led by SoftBank Group, Heritage Provider Network, Irving Investors and Highside Capital Management, all of which are new backers of the South San Francisco-based startup. Several of its existing investors also joined the round, including Amplify Partners, Anzu Partners, Genoa Ventures and True Ventures.
The financing marks a big jump in the lifetime funding of InterVenn, which had previously raised a total of about $45 million across two rounds since 2018.
It’ll be used largely to support development and commercialization of Dawn, a blood test designed to predict the effects of various immuno-oncology therapies. The test, slated for a commercial rollout beginning in 2022, has already been validated for use in patients with melanoma, as well as pancreatic and lung cancers, with other tumor types currently being studied as well.
InterVenn also plans to use the funding to strike up new partnerships across the pharmaceutical, biotech and medtech industries that will rely on the glycoproteomics platform to identify new cancer biomarkers and treatments, and, in turn, use those findings to develop diagnostic tests.
In addition to Dawn, InterVenn also has a broad slate of cancer-detecting blood tests in its pipeline. The furthest along of these is the Glori test for ovarian cancer, which recently completed clinical validation in an ongoing clinical trial in Asia, Australia and the U.S.
Early results from the VOCAL trial found that the Glori liquid biopsy assay was able to differentiate between benign and malignant pelvic tumors in women with 86% accuracy, higher than any other currently available blood test for ovarian cancer.
Emboldened by those results, InterVenn will continue advancing the rest of its tests currently under investigation. Those include tests for early detection of adenoma, colorectal cancer and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, as well as clinical management of renal cell carcinoma.