NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Personalized medicine startup Medomics said this week that it is in discussions with various undisclosed entities to raise $3 million to $4 million to further develop and market its gene sequencing-based diagnostic test for mitochondrial diseases.
Medomics, based in Azusa, Calif., expects to receive a $1 million investment from an undisclosed corporate co-investor if it can raise $2 million to $3 million in financing from additional investors, Steve Sommer, president and founder of Medomics, told GenomeWeb Daily News.
The potential corporate co-investor is a company with "multi-billion dollar revenues and which has some presence in this space," Sommer said, but declined to disclose additional information because of the ongoing nature of the financing.
If Medomics is able to attract the additional funds, it plans to use the $3 million to $4 million in cash to "dramatically accelerate marketing" of MitoDx, a mitochondrial genome sequence-analysis test for mitochondrial diseases that the company launched in June and that runs on a next-generation sequencing platform.
As reported in May by GWDN sister newsletter In Sequence, the MitoDx test uses an Applied Biosystems SOLiD 3.0 sequencing system to detect all mutations in any of the 37 mitochondrial DNA genes.
Sommer told GWDN this week that it still favors the AB platform because of its low error rate, which allows detection of heteroplasmy down to about one percent.
Medomics researchers then interpret the functional significance of deleted mutations to diagnose and tailor treatments for mitochondrial diseases – a diverse set of diseases that most commonly affect the brain, muscles, eyes, gastrointestinal tract, and heart with a wide array of symptoms.
According to Sommer, the frequency of occurrence of mitochondrial disease has rapidly increased in recent years to about one case in every 500 individuals, representing a potential $3.6 billion market for diagnosis and treatment.
Sommer said that since Medomics launched the service in June, it has been getting some samples in for MitoDx testing at its CLIA-certified facility in Azusa, but that market penetration is "severely limited by a lack of education" about mitochondrial disease and genetic testing.
"We want to use a lot of capital for education and marketing, beginning with physicians specializing in mitochondrial disease" Sommer said. "The next tier is sub-specialists such as pediatricians and gastroenterologists."
Medomics also wants to use the financing to expedite the development of a companion diagnostic test that will enable a single-source, high-specificity blood test for all mitochondrial diseases.
Sommer explained that mitochondrial disease can be due to mutations in mitochondrial or nuclear genes, and while Medomics "thinks that MitoDx is the definitive test for mitochondrial genes," the companion test will introduce comprehensive analysis of nuclear genes using next-generation sequencing.
Medomics will likely lean toward AB's sequencing technology for the companion test, as well, Sommer said. However, "as we think about other tests and grow as a company, we definitely will think about bringing in complementary technologies, each of which has a sweet spot," he added.
Most of Medomics' founding team, including Sommer, migrated to the company from City of Hope. The research hospital has no financial stake in Medomics, but some of its scientists maintain research collaborations with the company, Sommer said.
In fact, Medomics also has an R&D division that has ongoing research collaborations with Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, and others, Sommer said. Medomics hopes to reap additional intellectual property from these collaborations. "There's a lot of low-hanging fruit out there, and these collaborations will help us partake of that," Sommer said.
"Some clients come to us because they may have a next-generation sequencer in a core lab that provides plenty of As, Ts, Gs, and Cs, but not nearly enough analysis," Sommer said. "That's where we hope to come in."