Roche leads Freenome's $254M funding round for cancer-detecting blood tests

In early 2022, Freenome surpassed $1 billion in lifetime financing after raking in two nine-figure funding rounds barely a month apart, with plans to use the money to launch new studies of its cancer blood tests.

Two years later, the company is adding to its coffers once again, with an eye toward both keeping those studies afloat and continuing to develop additional disease-detecting liquid biopsy tests.

The latest funding round weighed in at $254 million, Freenome announced Thursday. It was led by Roche, which has participated in all of Freenome’s previous fundraising sessions and was also responsible for the $290 million contribution at the start of 2022 that brought Freenome’s total past the $1 billion mark.

More than a dozen others also chipped in to the quarter-billion-dollar round, including Quest Diagnostics, the American Cancer Society’s BrightEdge and more.

“We are grateful for the support and confidence of our investors. Together, we share a commitment to addressing the pressing need for better cancer screening solutions as we drive to make early cancer detection more convenient, accessible and actionable for everyone,” Freenome CEO Mike Nolan said in the announcement. “With this financing, we are well positioned to realize the full potential of our platform in delivering tests for early cancer detection.”

All of Freenome’s liquid biopsy tests are backed by its multiomics platform, which uses computational biology and machine learning technology to perform genomic, transcriptomic, methylomic and proteomic analyses on standard blood draws, looking for the earliest signs of cancer in a person’s DNA.

The company is developing a suite of both multi- and single-cancer tests, with the latter category led by a pair of liquid biopsies designed to screen for colorectal cancer and lung cancer. Additionally, according to Freenome, it’s working with its partners in biopharma and diagnostics to examine how the platform could be used to noninvasively identify minimal residual disease.

“We look forward to collaborating with Freenome to advance the potential of their breakthrough multiomics technology for multi-cancer screening, building on our other initiatives to advance liquid biopsy innovations in cancer screening and minimal residual disease testing,” Mark Gardner, senior vice president of molecular genomics and oncology at Quest Diagnostics, said in Freenome’s release this week.

Freenome’s latest study just commenced in December. Dubbed the PROACT LUNG study, it’s aiming to recruit up to 20,000 participants to test out the company’s lung cancer screening test, focusing specifically on current and former smokers who are at least 50 years old.

Elsewhere in its single-cancer portfolio, the PREEMPT CRC study—which Freenome has billed as the largest study ever conducted to validate a colon cancer blood test—is still ongoing. It completed enrollment in mid-2022 with more than 40,000 participants from diverse ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, according to the company.