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Saudi Investment Fund Dammam Valley Takes Majority Stake in Arcensus

NEW YORK – Direct-to-consumer clinical genetic testing startup Arcensus said Monday that Dammam Valley, an investment firm owned by Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Saudi Arabia, has taken a majority stake in the company.

Rostock, Germany-based Arcensus said that Dammam Valley and other, undisclosed investors are making a "double-digit million euro" investment, but did not provide further details. The firm, founded in December 2020, will not stray from its current business model of offering hereditary cancer and cardiovascular disease risk tests for those with a family history of such conditions as well as those with early symptoms with products called myLifeCancer, myLifeHeart, and a combination offering called myLifeDNA.

Founder and CEO Arndt Rolfs, a professor of neuro-regeneration at the University of Rostock and a former CEO of Centogene, told GenomeWeb earlier this year that Arcensus was particularly interested in Arabic countries like Saudi Arabia because of their high level of consanguinity that makes more people susceptible to genetic disorders. The firm, which has an office in Hoboken, New Jersey, is also targeting the US market and will be looking toward South Asia in the future.

"Dammam Valley will be a tremendous partner for the global expansion to us and shares our vision for building a worldwide healthcare platform in modern preventive medicine as well as early diagnostics of all genetic diseases," Rolfs said in a statement this week. "This important partnership will allow us to increase the investments in our modern technology and services platform, as well as our knowledge-based data extraction of the genomic data."

Rolfs will remain a "significant shareholder" in the company, according to Arcensus and Dammam Valley.

"We believe that the early diagnosis and preventive testing based on real-life genomic expertise with whole genome sequencing is a key ingredient to accelerate the development of, and access to, new future treatments," said Dammam Valley CEO Abdulrahman Al-Olayan. He said that Arcensus is "best positioned to provide a deep understanding of bioinformatic technologies and data analytics infrastructure needed not only for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but for medical research and development efforts across the globe."

Al-Olayan promised to protect the "autonomy" of Arcensus.