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Cancer Early Detection Firm Ark Launches With $40M Series A Investment

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Singapore-based cancer detection firm Ark said today that it has raised $40 million in a Series A investment led by shareholders of Venturecraft and backed by Gaorong Capital (formerly Banyan Capital).

The company is the result of a merger between Venturecraft and MiRxes, a technology firm that was spun out of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in 2014.

Ark's mission is to develop early cancer detection tests across different tumor types, but its first product is a more focused blood test for the detection of early-stage stomach cancer in asymptomatic individuals.

That assay, which involves PCR detection of a panel of microRNA biomarkers, has already been developed and validated in collaboration with the Singapore Gastric Cancer Consortium and other local institutions, including a recently completed a three-year, multi-center clinical study involving more than 5,000 matched control and stomach cancer subjects, the company said.

According to Ark, the series A funding will help it expand its presence outside of Singapore, initially to China and then to other markets, as well as to develop tests for other high-prevalence diseases like lung, breast, and colon cancer. The firm is already working on plans for a study that would enroll 50,000 subjects through partnerships with local governments and medical institutions.

"After years of research and development, we are readying ourselves to move to the battlefront in the war against cancer," Zhou Lihan, cofounder and co-CEO of Ark, said in a statement. "Besides our continued focus on R&D and large-scale clinical studies, we are also building key commercial infrastructure and capabilities to prepare for the launch of the tests," he added.