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Veritas Genetics Halts US Operations, Lays Off More Than 30

NEW YORK – Veritas Genetics is shutting down its US operations, at least temporarily, due to financial troubles.

Mirza Cifric, the company's CEO, told GenomeWeb that the firm ran out of funds because a planned financing fell through, which was "very abrupt and unexpected," and that it started laying off most of its US staff, more than 30 employees, earlier this week.

In a Twitter message dated Dec. 4 and posted Dec. 5, the Danvers, Massachusetts-based company said that "due to an unexpected adverse financing situation, we have been forced to suspend our operations in the US for the time being. We are currently assessing all paths forward, including strategic options."

Cifric said the firm had been "in very active financing discussions, which we very much expected to go through," but when they ended abruptly, the company was forced to lay off its US staff. He declined to comment on the reasons for the sudden end to the negotiations, or provide further details.

 

He said Veritas has been in M&A and financing discussions for the past year and "any one of those things could be a possible path forward," adding that the company has not yet closed down its US laboratory or formally shut down.

 

Also, customers outside the US will continue to be served by Veritas Europe/Latin America, which operates out of Madrid and has laboratory capabilities. In addition, Veritas still has an active location in Shanghai, with laboratory operations.

In late 2016, Veritas, a spinout from Harvard Medical School, raised $30 million in a Series B financing round after launching a $999 consumer-initiated whole-genome sequencing and interpretation service earlier that year. Its total funding raised at that time was $42 million. Trustbridge Partners and Jiangsu Simcere Pharmaceutical led the Series B round, joined by existing investor Lilly Asia Ventures.

The year before, the company had released a BRCA1/BRCA2 disease risk test for $199, followed by a 26-gene hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk test for $299 in early 2016.

Just last week, Veritas advertised its MyGenome whole-genome sequencing and interpretation service for a "historically low price" of $599, though it offered the same service at $399 for a limited period a year ago.

Last month, the company reportedly suffered a customer data breach but provided few details.

In October, Veritas inked an agreement with Genomika to offer its whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing services in Brazil. Last year, Veritas also partnered with Nebula Genomics, another Harvard spinout, offering that firm access to its Arvados software platform, which it had obtained through the 2017 acquisition of Curoverse, yet another Harvard spinout. In 2018 and 2017, it also signed deals with Genomenon, the Mayo Clinic, Inova, the Women's College Hospital in Toronto, and Fabric Genomics.

Cifric said Veritas is currently contacting both its consumer and business customers and is in the process of making data downloads available to them. He noted that the company's website and customer portal are still active.

 

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