Venter's Human Longevity raises $220M with help from Celgene, Illumina

J. Craig Venter

J. Craig Venter's genome outfit Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) has raised a great chunk of money from big players in oncology and gene sequencing.

San Diego-based HLI has taken $220 million in a Series B round after securing $80 million in its first funding drive. Cancer drug specialist Celgene ($CELG) and fellow Californian genome sequencing company Illumina ($ILMN) led the round.

HLI said it is looking to spend the cash to help develop the first Health Nucleus, HLI's genomics research health center that uses whole genome sequence analysis and clinical imaging, as well as the ongoing development of the HLI Knowledgebase, which currently has more than 20,000 complete genomes coupled with phenotype data.

It's also looking to work more deeply in oncology by funneling some of the money into the company's Comprehensive Cancer Program--which was launched earlier this year--alongside other sequencing projects.

This is most likely what has piqued Celgene's interest in the company, with the program including the development of comprehensive whole germline and tumor genome analysis, as well as tumor and germline exome analysis products.

J. Craig Venter, co-founder and CEO of HLI, said: "The closing of our Series B offering was completed with excellent results for HLI, despite especially challenging external financial markets. This is a tribute to the strength of our science, technology and team. We continue to build our business, develop life changing products and hire world class scientific, clinical and technical leaders to help us meet our goal of revolutionizing healthcare."

HLI already has already had dealings with Illumina as when it first set up shop back in 2014, the company bought two of Illumina's $1,000-genome-enabling HiSeq X Ten systems on its first day of business.

The company has signed a number of big deals over the past year as it aims to create the world's largest database of human genetic information, which is already capable of sequencing nearly 40,000 whole genomes a year.

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