Grail, Inc., a Menlo Park, CA-based life sciences company that promises to detect cancer early when it can be cured, raised over $900m through the first close of its Series B funding.
The round was led by Arch Venture Partners with participation from Johnson & Johnson Innovation as well as Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, McKesson Ventures, Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada), Tencent Holdings Limited and Varian Medical Systems, Inc.
The company intends to use the proceeds for continued product development and validation of blood tests for early-stage cancer detection, including the Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas (CCGA) study and other large-scale clinical trials that are expected to enroll hundreds of thousands of patients. The CCGA study will characterize the landscape of cell-free DNA profiles in individuals with cancer and in healthy non-cancer participants using the company’s high-intensity (ultra-broad and ultra-deep) sequencing approach, leveraging Illumina sequencing technology. Some of the proceeds were used to repurchase a portion of Illumina’s stake in Grail such that Illumina now owns slightly less than 20% of the company.
Led by Jeff Huber, Chief Executive Officer, and Ken Drazan, Chief Business Officer, Grail aims to detect cancer early, when it can be cured, by using high-intensity sequencing, population-scale clinical trials, and Computer Science and Data Science to enhance the scientific understanding of cancer biology and develop blood tests for early-stage cancer detection.
The company’s approach is to sequence circulating cell-free nucleic acids at scale to optimize the detection of early-stage cancer. By leveraging a technology infrastructure that uses computer science and data science approaches, with cloud-based infrastructure and software engineering practices, Grail will be creating datasets to enable a comprehensive understanding of cancer biology.
The company anticipates a second close prior to the end of the first quarter of 2017, with Goldman, Sachs & Co. acting as a placement agent, which will include additional institutional investors globally.