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Sequenta Raises $13M for Development of Immune Repertoire Sequencing-Based Diagnostics


This article has been updated from a version posted Dec. 8 to include comments from a company director.

Sequenta, a molecular diagnostics company focused on developing an assay based on immune repertoire sequencing, has raised $13 million in a Series B financing round. The financing was led by Index Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and several individual investors.

The San Francisco-based company, formerly MLC Dx, will use the funds to continue development and commercialization of diagnostic assays based on a proprietary sequencing approach for profiling the immune repertoire.

The company initially raised $6 million in the Series B round in August. At the time, it said it was targeting a total of $9.7 million for the financing that the company raised earlier this year (IS 8/24/2010).

"Sequenta has developed an assay that is capable of measuring the antigen receptor sequences of the millions of white blood cells that are found in circulation using a scalable high-throughput assay," Tom Willis, the company's CEO, said in a statement. "Unlike your inherited DNA sequence, these sequences are constantly changing as your immune system adapts to the environment."

The company said that it will eventually provide diagnostic and prognostic tests, as well as monitoring, for infection, auto-immune diseases, and cancer.

Rowan Chapman, a member of Sequenta's board, said the company plans to launch its test "within a few years." She declined to disclose which sequencing technology it plans to use as well as details on the diseases it will target first.

Chapman did say, however, that the company is using short-read sequencing technology, and that the assay will "combine the power of short read lengths and high throughput to get high granularity in specific regions" of the immune system.

While the immune repertoire sequencing field is still small, a few other companies have realized the potential. HudsonAlpha spinoff iRepertoire, for instance, offers immune sequencing services (IS 8/31/2010). Seattle-based startup Adaptive TCR also began offering immune sequencing services this year and has said it plans to develop diagnostic tests for autoimmune diseases (IS 7/20/2010).