Sep 18, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO — Cofactor Genomics, developer of a leading platform for RNA sequencing and expression analysis, today announced $18M in financing led by Menlo Ventures with major participation from existing investor Data Collective (DCVC) and new investor Ascension Ventures, and participation from existing and new investors iSelect, Y Combinator, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Stanford. The company welcomes Mark Siegel (Menlo Ventures), Matt Ocko (DCVC), and John Kuelper (Ascension Ventures) to its board of directors.
“This financing—which includes leading investors who have grown hugely successful companies spanning the data science, biotech, and healthcare verticals—is enormous validation of the platform that we’ve built and reflects excitement for Cofactor’s next phase of growth where we intend to package this expertise in discrete applications that can be easily adopted by research labs and clinical practices throughout the nation,” said Dr. Jarret Glasscock, CEO of Cofactor. “I, as well as many on my team, have lost family members to cancer, so being able to see Cofactor’s technology improve oncologists’ ability to select therapy and impact patient outcomes is of great importance to my talented and tenacious team.”
The investment comes on the heels of Cofactor securing CAP/CLIA accreditation of its platform in order to process clinical-grade formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) patient samples, as well as the validation and launch of two initial products: Pinnacle and Paragon. Pinnacle examines nearly 600 RNA biomarkers known to be associated with response to targeted therapeutics, while Paragon is an RNA-based immunophenotyping assay with broad applications to the field of Immuno-Oncology and beyond. Mark Siegel, Managing Director of Menlo Ventures, commented; “RNA is the unwritten chapter in the book of personalized oncology care. We at Menlo are happy to be supporting the growth of Cofactor and their team with decades of genomics experience as they leverage their powerful technology to write this new chapter.”
While most attention has been paid to applications of DNA analysis for precision medicine, Cofactor’s team of past Human Genome Project scientists have spent the last four years optimizing its platform specifically for the analysis of RNA, a rich source of information on the molecular mechanisms involved in complex and heterogeneous diseases such as cancer that cannot be uncovered through DNA alone. “RNA messages are the human body’s analog of Internet data packets, constantly emitted by every cell and organ, and containing very specific information about processes at their point of origin. DCVC seed financed the brilliant computational biologists at Cofactor because they created technology to read these RNA data packets and translate their information into disease insight. We are now increasing our commitment and involvement with team Cofactor through this funding round because this technology has clearly shown the potential to save lives,” said Matt Ocko, co-Managing Partner of DCVC.
“Targeted therapeutics have advanced so rapidly that today it’s impossible to follow oncology best practices without embracing precision medicine,” said John Kuelper, Investment Director at Ascension Ventures (AV). “While NGS has already revolutionized clinical DNA analysis, the practical and computational challenges of multiplexed clinical RNA analysis have relegated this technology to research settings. Cofactor is uniquely positioned to bring this technology out of academia and into the clinic, expanding the reach of precision medicine to a broader class of molecularly targeted drugs whose efficacy can’t be assessed with DNA alone. As AV’s 13 health system partners—who collectively represent nearly 500 hospitals and nearly $90 billion in annual patient care—adapt to new models of precision medicine, the need for diagnostic platforms that combine high accuracy and consistency with broad applicability and cost-effectiveness has become apparent.”
About Cofactor Genomics
Cofactor Genomics uses RNA to help researchers and clinicians understand, diagnose, and predict drug response for the 95% of disease that can’t be assessed by DNA alone. Founded by three former Human Genome Project scientists, Cofactor has built a proprietary platform capable of overcoming the chemical and computational challenges of performing complex RNA fingerprint analysis on clinical-grade human samples. Cofactor has contracts to provide RNA sequencing and analysis services to the research arms of eight of the world’s largest pharma and biotech companies, and is in the process of commercializing a suite of clinical diagnostic assays targeting oncologic, immunologic, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Find out more about Cofactor Genomics at cofactorgenomics.com.