NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – MedGenome has received a $20 million investment from Sequoia Capital in a Series B funding round which it will use to build out its bioinformatics infrastructure, enhance its sequencing facility in India and the US, and expand its research and scientific teams.
As part of the investment, Abhay Pandey of Sequoia Capital will join MedGenome's board of directors, which already includes Sam Santhosh, founder of MedGenome parent company SciGenome Labs; Mahesh Pratapneni of Emerge Ventures, which invested in MedGenome's $4 million Series A fundraising round last year; and Dhiraj Rajaram of management consulting firm Mu Sigma.
MedGenome will use part of the new funds to support and grow its business in India including setting up genomic centers across the country to make it easier for patients to access its services, Kartik Kumaramangalam, MedGenome's chief of global products and services, told GenomeWeb. The company will also invest in infrastructure in the US that will help clients in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry make use of insights that the company has gleaned from analyzing genomic sequences from the Indian population to develop more effective therapies for various diseases, he said.
MedGenome operates what it claims is the largest privately owned, independent next-generation sequencing laboratory in India, where it offers a number of clinical diagnostic tests including Natera's Panorama non-invasive prenatal test for screening genetic and chromosomal abnormalities during pregnancy.
Its Integrated Genomics Platform is being used in research projects within India and abroad in areas such as cancer and immunotherapies; metabolic diseases; Parkinson's disease; kidney, liver, and ophthalmological diseases; diabetes; deafness; and aging. The company also offers access to OncoMed, a curated, proprietary knowledge base of millions of cancer mutations culled from peer-reviewed publications including relevant functional information, sensitivity to drugs, and potential clinical trials for enrollment; and OncoPept, a platform that supports efforts to develop cancer immunotherapies.
Furthermore, MedGenome has access to patients in more than 100 hospitals across India and, through its research and clinical testing services, a rich pool of patient genomic and clinical information across multiple disease areas from which it is acquiring knowledge on variant function that could be of benefit to pharma and biotech companies, Kumaramangalam said. With the new funds, the company is "taking our access and reach in the clinical market in India where we are seeing these patients across these different areas, getting a sense of where the interesting function[al] variants are, and then doing deeper research with pharma and biotech in the US," he noted.
To better support its US-based efforts, MedGenome will establish a new research laboratory in the San Francisco area as well as hire both senior and junior bioinformatics scientists to work with its US partners, Kumaramangalam said. The company will also beef up its internal bioinformatics pipelines to better handle and analyze the large datasets generated by drug development projects it engages in, he said.
MedGenome is already working on a number of research projects with academic institutions and commercial firms in the US. Existing efforts focus on disease areas such as cancer, metabolic diseases, and kidney and liver diseases, Kumaramangalam said. The company has also begun some work in neurological diseases such as Parkinson's and it plans to engage in additional studies in this and other disease areas in future, he said.
MedGenome's platforms are being used by commercial customers such as Genentech and Amgen, as well as by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.