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Liquid Biopsy Startup Aqtual Raises $16M in Series A Financing

NEW YORK – Aqtual said on Tuesday that it has raised $16 million in Series A financing to further advance its cell-free DNA (cfDNA) analysis platform to develop blood-based assays to help select effective treatments for chronic diseases and cancer, starting with rheumatoid arthritis.

The financing round was co-led by Genoa Ventures, Manta Ray Ventures, and Yu Galaxy.

Hayward, California-based Aqtual said that its proprietary technology evaluates protein regulation, epigenetics, and transcriptomics from cfDNA fragments in blood, providing "an order of magnitude greater detail" than other cfDNA analysis methods. According to the company's website, its platform captures and analyzes circulating chromatin, enabling the firm to survey more than 200,000 gene promoters, 400,000 enhancers, 50,000 insulators, 20,000 silencers, and 1 million transcription factor binding sites.

Aqtual also said that it has enrolled the first patient in PRIMA-102, a prospective clinical trial designed to evaluate the ability of its technology to select effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis patients. This multicenter trial is enrolling 150 individuals diagnosed with the disease with the goal of developing a classifier that can predict effective drug classes for patients, the company said.

"Eliminating background noise to develop diagnostics with great sensitivity has been the gold standard of liquid biopsy, but it turns out that 'noise' is a clinically relevant, information-rich radio frequency that Aqtual has learned to amplify," Aqtual Founder and CEO Diana Abdueva said in a statement. "Our platform provides a comprehensive catalog of regulatory features to give a holistic perspective on gene and chromatin regulation, advance our understanding of disease and resistance mechanisms, and lead to innovative blood tests in the costliest disease areas."