Tangen nets $9M for portable, battery-powered DNA diagnostics

green bacteria
Using isothermal nucleic acid detection, Tangen's battery-operated system amplifies DNA signals under a constant temperature, instead of the alternating cycles used in PCR that require more hardware. (Gerd Altmann)

Tangen Biosciences, which aims to develop cheaper and portable molecular diagnostics used outside of the laboratory, has raised $9 million to kick off its venture funding efforts.

Its series A round was led by Connecticut Innovations, the state’s strategic investment arm, alongside VC23, Axiom and Leading Edge Ventures. The proceeds will be put toward moving the company’s TangenDx platform into the clinic in two trials focused on obtaining FDA clearances in diagnosing infectious diseases and an eye on a 2020 product launch.

Using isothermal nucleic acid detection—which amplifies the DNA signal under a constant temperature, instead of the alternating cycles used in PCR that require more hardware—Tangen’s battery-powered system is able to deliver results in less than one hour.

“The future of diagnostics lies in decentralized testing, and TangenDx will bring high-quality molecular testing out of the traditional laboratory setting into doctors’ offices, pharmacies and healthcare providers in areas with limited infrastructure,” said Daniel Wagner, senior managing director of venture capital investments at Connecticut Innovations.

In 2017, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority gave Tangen a $3.2 million grant to develop a rapid, field-deployable diagnostic to test people for anthrax infections. BARDA said that, if approved, Tangen’s assay could detect the deadly bacteria in as little as 15 minutes in a wide range of specimen types.

Founded in 2013, the Branford, Connecticut-based Tangen brought on Richard Birkmeyer to be CEO in November of last year. Birkmeyer previously ran CD Diagnostics, developers of an immunoassay to detect infections in the body’s lubricating fluid surrounding prosthetic joint replacements. After being acquired by Zimmer Biomet in 2016, the company’s diagnostic was recently approved by the FDA to evaluate patients for surgery to revise or replace a failing implant.

Tangen also expanded its management team, bringing on Keith Kardos, as acting vice president of clinical affairs, and Anne Cavanaugh as director of finance. Kardos was formerly VP of R&D at OraSure Technologies, as well as VP of clinical affairs at CD Diagnostics. Cavanaugh, meanwhile, previously co-founded Strategic Diagnostics alongside Birkmeyer, who also served as CEO.