Seer, a liquid biopsy company aimed at querying the body’s proteome, has emerged from stealth with $36 million in funding to develop early-warning tests for cancer and neurological diseases.
Seer employs nanotechnology, protein chemistry and machine learning algorithms to profile the tens of thousands of data points gathered from the proteins found in an individual person’s sample, including unique findings and data on protein relationships. Its platform aims to capture this information from many patients simultaneously and analyze the data using artificial intelligence systems.
“While genomic data has represented a massive step forward in helping us understand and more precisely treat disease, it is has shown limited ability to detect early stage disease and track disease progression,” said Omid Farokhzad, Seer’s founder and CEO. “Proteomics reveals the relatively much larger body of data about health status and disease that could be used by clinicians.”
The startup’s pipeline follows a multistep process: first, its Proteograph platform is used to profile a broad array of the body’s proteins. Then, Seer employs its machine learning algorithms to analyze the resulting volume of information and generate insights into the progression of diseases at the population level.
Finally, that data will be used to develop new blood tests aimed at detecting diseases before their symptoms appear.
Seer was founded by Farokhzad and Chief Business Officer and President Philip Ma, along with Robert Langer, an institute professor at MIT who chairs the company’s scientific advisory board.
Farokhzad previously helped start Selecta Biosciences, a former Fierce 15 winner and currently serves as its chairman. He previously founded Bind Therapeutics, which filed for bankruptcy in 2016 following disappointing phase 2 results for its nanoparticle cancer drug and was later sold to Pfizer for $40 million.
Ma joined after leaving Biogen, where he was VP for digital health technologies and data sciences, a group he helped establish at the company in 2015, and served as a senior partner at McKinsey & Company.
The company has also brought on Applied Proteomics’ Chief Scientific Officer John Blume to be its VP of research; Crescendo Biosciences’ Bill Manning to serve as product development VP; Pfizer’s VP of nanomedicine development and manufacturing, Greg Troiano, as its chief engineer; Crescendo CTO Lyndal Hesterberg as a distinguished fellow; and Oncocyte’s clinical and regulatory affairs VP, Lyssa Friedman, to head up its clinical operations.
Seer has already completed series A and B financing founds, raising $36 million with the help of Maverick Ventures and Invus, alongside other investors.
The funding will help advance its platform and build out the company’s database of proteins, as well as support its discovery and product development programs. Seer also hopes to collaborate with biopharmaceutical industry partners to develop new products using its Proteograph system.
“We were impressed not only by Seer’s novel technology platform and early data, but also by the team’s vision for the broad application of its proteomic data, especially for early disease detection when potentially lethal diseases may be cured,” said David Singer, managing partner of Maverick Ventures.