Foresight Diagnostics Completes Series A Financing to Accelerate Development of its Industry-Leading Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) Technology
By: Colorado BioScience Association Date: 06/03/2021
Foresight Diagnostics today announced the close of its $12.5M Series A financing led by Civilization Ventures and Bluebird Ventures, with participation by Pear Ventures, to commercialize the industry’s most sensitive minimal residual disease (MRD) detection assay. Foresight’s approach is based on a proprietary technology developed at and licensed from Stanford University called PhasED-Seq (Phased Variant Enrichment & Detection Sequencing). Based on a simple blood draw and next-generation sequencing, PhasED-Seq screens for evidence of residual cancer by testing patient plasma samples for the presence of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA).
As reported at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting (Abstract #7565 and #8518), PhasED-Seq can detect ctDNA at levels as low as one part-per-million, which is up to 100-times more sensitive than other liquid biopsy-based MRD approaches.
“Foresight’s technology and data demonstrate a level of MRD detection that is more than an order of magnitude better than the nearest competitor, a game changer for the liquid biopsy field,” said Shahram Seyedin-Noor, Founder and General Partner of Civilization Ventures.
Foresight will use the financing to enter the commercial phase of development for the PhasED-Seq technology by launching its first CLIA validated assay to support MRD-driven clinical trials in B-cell lymphomas. In contrast to existing assays, Foresight’s lymphoma MRD offering is an ‘off-the-shelf’ test that does not require tumor tissue or patient-specific customization.
“The unprecedented sensitivity of PhasED-Seq addresses a critical unmet need for how we clinically manage oncology patients. We now have a way to more accurately identify those patients who are not cured with standard treatments, and to direct aggressive and novel therapies accordingly,” said Dr. Max Diehn, a Stanford University professor and co-founder of Foresight.
“Physicians want to make treatment decisions when disease burden is as low as possible because that is when additional therapy will be most effective,” stated Dr. Ash Alizadeh, a Stanford University professor and co-founder of Foresight, adding: “Existing MRD approaches are simply not sensitive enough for common tumors. We developed Foresight’s MRD test to solve this problem. Following curative intent treatment in patients with B-cell lymphomas our test detected cancer relapse an average of 200 days earlier than standard-of-care imaging approaches with a detection limit below 0.0001%. This earlier detection of disease relapse unlocks several new precision medicine approaches that have potential to significantly improve patient outcomes.”
Foresight is actively evaluating strategic partnerships and already has multiple studies underway with leading clinical collaborators and pharmaceutical companies. “We’re confident that the PhasED-Seq technology will be an exceptional tool for clinical and drug development applications for a wide array of cancers,” explained Dr. Jake Chabon, co-founder and CEO of Foresight. “We believe that Foresight’s MRD testing platform will become the future standard of care for ctDNA-guided clinical trials which will enable more effective personalized treatment strategies for cancer patients.”
Foresight was founded by Max Diehn (MD/PhD), Ash Alizadeh (MD/PhD), David Kurtz (MD/PhD), and Jake Chabon (PhD), four prominent Stanford University scientists with a long history of developing cutting-edge innovations in ctDNA technology. Foresight’s lead investors, Civilization Ventures and Bluebird Ventures, are run by former life science executives and operators with an outstanding track record of bringing break-through innovations to market. Foresight has quickly built a world-class team as it enters a new stage of growth, including the addition to its Board of Directors of Mark Lee (MD/PhD), a founding executive at GRAIL and most recently SVP and Global Head of Personalized Healthcare at Genentech, and the key hire as CFO and Chief Business Officer of Mukul Agarwal, formerly VP of Corporate Development at Forty Seven (acquired by Gilead).
Find out more in the press release.