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Liquid Biopsy Early Detection Firm Thrive Launches With $100M Series A Financing

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Blood-based cancer detection firm Thrive Earlier Detection announced its launch today, supported by a $110 million financing round.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm plans to commercialize a circulating tumor DNA and protein testing method initially developed at Johns Hopkins University and currently being validated in a 10,000-person trial with Pennsylvania's Gesinger Health system.

Third Rock Ventures led the new company's Series A round, joined by Section32, Casdin Capital, Biomatics Capital, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, The Invus Group, Exact Sciences, and others.

Among the firm's executives are CEO Steven Kafka, who previously served as president and COO of Foundation Medicine; Chief Innovation Officer and Director Christoph Lengauer, formerly CSO at Blueprint Medicines; COO Samantha Singer, who previously was COO at the Broad Institute; and CFO Isaac Ro, a former investment analyst at Goldman Sachs.

The money raised will support clinical development of a test that investigators initially described as CancerSEEK in a publication in Science las year. The financing will also go toward negotiating the regulatory approval and reimbursement processes.

CancerSEEK, developed by JHU researchers Bert Vogelstein, Kenneth Kinzler, and Nickolas Papadopoulos, combines analysis of a targeted panel of DNA alterations with blood protein measurements. In the team's publication last year, the approach demonstrated greater than 99 percent specificity with varying sensitivities in different cancer types and stages.

The test then received breakthrough device designation from the US Food and Drug Administration for the detection of genetic mutations and proteins associated with pancreatic and ovarian cancers.

Thrive said it plans to integrate real-world data and machine learning to continue to improve the assay over time and to create a cost-effective comprehensive care solution for primary care physicians.

For now, the company is evaluating the test in a prospective study called DETECT, which has already recruited a planned 10,000 healthy individuals in collaboration with Geisinger.

Researchers reported at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting earlier this year that participants in the trial with confirmed positive results will get additional testing like colonoscopy, or PET-CT scan if the assay is unable to predict a detected cancer's location.