Biotech startup Variantyx raises $20M in funding for whole-genome sequencing method to treat rare diseases
DNA, which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, is the genetic code that determines all the characteristics of a living thing. The genome of every organism, be it bacteria, virus, potato, human, is made up of DNA. Each organism has a unique DNA sequence that is composed of bases (A, T, C, and G). If you know the sequence of the bases in an organism, you have identified its unique DNA fingerprint or pattern. Determining the order of bases is called sequencing.
On the other hand, whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is a comprehensive method for analyzing entire genomes. Genomic information has been instrumental in identifying inherited disorders, characterizing the mutations that drive cancer progression, and tracking disease outbreaks. One of the companies in this space is Boston, MA-based startup Variantyx. The company is using WGS to diagnose rare inherited and neurological disorders.
WGS is a testing technique that identifies changes in genes that lead to illness. WGS examines the entire genome which provides physicians with insights into current and future medical puzzles related to genetics. One of the benefits of WGS is that by analyzing the entire genome, the “diagnostic odyssey” – the time it takes for patients and physicians to arrive at a diagnosis – is reduced significantly, saving time and money and enabling treatment to be implemented faster.
Today, Variantyx announced today it has secured $20 million in funding to fuel the development of comprehensive tumor diagnostic solutions and its expansion of sales. The Series C funding round was led by GHS Fund (Quark Venture LP and GF Securities) and includes new investor, IBM Ventures and current investors, Pitango Venture Capital, New Era Capital Partners, 20/20 HealthCare Partners. In conjunction with the funding, Variantyx also announced that Zafrira Avnur, Ph.D., Quark Venture Chief Scientific Officer & Partner, will join its board of directors.
Founded in 2014 by Haim Neerman, Noam Shomron, Tomer Jackman, Variantyx’s Genomic Unity test uses clinical whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and using a single patient sample to identify and report all major variant types including small sequence changes, structural variants, mitochondrial variants, and short tandem repeat expansions. This comprehensive test eliminates the need for traditional step-wise, reiterative genetic testing.
“The funding will make it possible for Variantyx to extend our technology to comprehensive tumor diagnostic solutions allowing for faster diagnosis and implementation of personalized treatment plans,” says Haim Neerman, CEO of Variantyx. “Reducing the time to diagnosis and providing patients with a truly personalized analysis of their unique cancer will provide a better outcome for patients, allowing them to begin the most appropriate cancer treatment sooner.”
“We are pleased to enable the expansion of the novel platform developed by Variantyx for genetic testing into the field of oncology,” says Karimah Es Sabar, CEO, and Partner, Quark Venture. “There is a significant unmet medical need in tumor diagnostics that Variantyx will address, by providing a rapid personalized approach for each patient that will support medical professionals and greatly augment patients’ wellbeing.”
Physicians have been turning to WGS as the first line of testing to determine the root cause of genetic disease rather than sending patients to various doctors for exams and labs for multiple blood samples. Variantyx has been making breakthroughs in genetic testing and recently announced a WGS-based prenatal test for high risk-pregnancies when ultrasound anomalies have been found.