Exai Bio secures $67.5 million series A financing to advance next-generation, RNA-based liquid biopsy platform for early cancer detection

Exai Bio, a next-generation liquid biopsy company, today announced it has raised a $67.5 million Series A financing to accelerate development of its non-invasive, RNA-based liquid biopsy platform for early cancer detection. The financing was led by leading life sciences and tech investors Section 32 and Casdin Capital, with participation from Two Sigma Ventures, who have been integral to advancing cancer diagnostics and artificial intelligence/machine learning technologies.

Exai Bio’s platform delivers unprecedented clinical insight into cancer biology from non-invasive blood samples enabling early and accurate diagnosis of cancer to inform personalized care treatments. Unlike first generation liquid biopsy tests which measure circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) mutations and/or epigenetic markers (such as ctDNA methylation or fragmentation patterns), Exai Bio’s proprietary platform measures cell-free RNA profiles, analyzing them using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Specifically, Exai Bio is focused on orphan non-coding RNA (oncRNA), small RNA sequences not seen in normal tissue but abundant in tumors. In liquid biopsy samples, these tumor-specific oncRNAs translate to higher sensitivity and specificity, ultimately enabling a more accurate diagnosis as compared to ctDNA-based liquid biopsy tests. Exai Bio’s approach is applicable across multiple unmet needs in cancer.

“Exai Bio is the first company founded to explore the important role of oncRNA in early and more accurate cancer detection and its important impact on improved patient outcomes and health economics,” said Patrick Arensdorf, chief executive officer, Exai Bio. “Combining oncRNA technology with cutting-edge machine learning and artificial intelligence to decipher tumor signals and understand the active biology of disease, Exai Bio’s next generation liquid biopsy platform provides actionable information to help inform accurate clinical decisions.”

Exai Bio’s next generation liquid biopsy platform was developed based on groundbreaking research conducted by Hani Goodarzi, PhD, assistant professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, a member of the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute and the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and co-founder and scientific advisor for Exai Bio. Dr. Goodarzi’s research, published in Nature, 2018, was the first to identify breast cancer-specific oncRNA and its role as a robust promoter of breast cancer metastasis. The paper also identified the opportunity to utilize oncRNA for early cancer detection via liquid biopsy.

Since 2018, Dr. Goodarzi’s research into oncRNA has continued, and today, Exai Bio’s liquid biopsy platform has been utilized in multiple studies, most notably including the I-SPY 2 study collaboration with UCSF. I-SPY 2 is a neoadjuvant, adaptive clinical trial designed to improve outcomes in individuals with high-risk breast cancer.

Source – BusinessWire

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