NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Crescendo Bioscience today announced the completion of a $28 million Series D financing round led by Skyline Ventures and Safeguard Scientifics.
Existing investors Mohr Davidow Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, aeris Capital AG, and others also contributed funds, which will be used to bolster commercialization efforts around Crescendo's flagship Vectra DA molecular test. Specifically, Crescendo will use the $28 million to expand its sales force, increase greater adoption of the test among rheumatologists, conduct additional studies to further establish the clinical utility of the test, and raise patient awareness about the diagnostic.
Vectra DA is multi-biomarker blood test that gauges disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis patients. The test assesses the serum concentrations of 12 immune, endothelial, bone, cartilage and metabolic biomarkers associated with rheumatoid arthritis and uses an algorithm to generate a disease activity score for a patient between one and 100.
Throughout 2012 Crescendo expanded its sales force, which enabled the company to reach 500 rheumatologists who have used Vectra DA and to analyze unique samples from more than 30,000 patients.
"To facilitate this growth, we invested in laboratory infrastructure, automation and expanded web portal capabilities to better serve our clients," Crescendo CEO William Hagstrom said in a statement announcing the Series D funding round. "We also invested in expanding our medical team with rheumatology, immunology, and industry expertise to drive additional studies, data generation, and peer-reviewed publications."
Starting with 10 sales representatives in mid-2011, Crescendo currently has a sales force of 20 reps. Hagstrom told Genome Web Daily News that the company plans to add 10 more reps in 2013.
At this time, Crescendo has reached about 15 percent of 3,500 rheumatologists in the US, and according to Hagstrom, this year the company hopes to reach roughly 25 percent of those specialists. Additionally, this year Crescendo aims to analyze around three times the number of unique patient samples assessed by Vectra DA in 2012, or approximately 90,000 samples.
In 2013, similar to the previous year, Crescendo will continue to invest in laboratory infrastructure, robotics, and automation. The company will also conduct studies to demonstrate the science behind the Vectra DA technology.
At the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting in November, Crescendo presented data from several studies supporting the use of Vectra DA as a tool to track disease activity in patients treated with a variety of treatments, such as methotrexate and prednisone, the monoclonal antibody tocilizumab, and the JAK inhibitor tofacitinib. "We did a dozen plus studies in 2012," Hagstrom added. "We'll do that number or greater [this year]."
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that affects 1.5 million people in the US. Current methods of tracking disease activity are subjective, including gauging the signs and symptoms of the disease, assessing structural damage in joints, and determining functionality, such as patient-reported measurements of pain. Crescendo is marketing Vectra DA as an objective measure of rheumatoid arthritis activity that can be used in concert with the standard disease assessment tools.
Hagstrom noted that in 2013 the company will continue working with drug developers to conduct biomarker studies or provide biology modeling for drugs in their pipeline.
The company this year will also begin working with patient advocacy groups to ramp up education among rheumatoid arthritis patients. Crescendo just launched an iPhone application called MyRA, which allows patients to track how their disease is progressing between office visits in terms of symptoms and functionality. With the agreement of their doctors, patients can also access their Vectra DA results through this application.