Biotechnology / Funding / Health

Hopkins-born Thrive Earlier Detection Corp. raises $257M to further cancer blood test development

The eye-catching Series B, which included participation from Baltimore-based firms, was the second nine-figure funding round raised in about a year for the company. It's working to bring a test to market that can detect cancer in people who aren't showing symptoms as part of routine medical care.

Inside FastForward 1812, an East Baltimore-based incubator home that is based in East Baltimore. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Updated at 11:09 a.m., 7/29/20.

Thrive Earlier Detection Corp., a company that spun out cancer research at Johns Hopkins University and maintains a presence in Baltimore, raised $257 million in Series B funding, the company announced Wednesday.

It’s the second nine-figure raise since the company was founded in 2019. Last year, it launched with a $110 million Series A that was the largest by a company with technology licensed from JHU. Now there’s a new record that more than doubles that total.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company is seeking to commercialize a blood test for cancer that was developed at JHU’s Bert Vogelstein Laboratory. Called Cancer SEEK, it is designed to be incorporated into routine medical care.

Catching cancer early is often held up as a key for treatment, and the company says this test shows promise to detect cancer in people who are not showing any symptoms. In April, results of a clinical study conducted of 10,000 women who were asymptomatic showed that the test identified cancer in people who didn’t show a history of the disease, and identified cancer in 10 organs. It also increased the number of people who were first diagnosed with a screening from 25% to 52%. The study was conducted with Johns Hopkins and Geisinger Health.

“Our blood test more than doubled the number of cancers first detected by screening, enabling better outcomes and, in some cases, potential cure for these patients,” CEO David J. Daly said in a statement.

With the new funding, the company is planning to conduct a registrational trial, which is a type of trial designed to produce results toward regulatory approval, and will work on access issues such as a future reimbursement for the test.

Thrive Earlier Detection Corp. CEO David J. Daly (left) and CFO Isaac Ro. (Courtesy photo)

Thrive Earlier Detection Corp. CEO David J. Daly (left) and CFO Isaac Ro. (Courtesy photo)

The funding round was led by New York-based life science technology investment firm Casdin Capital and Section 32, a West Coast venture fund started by Google Ventures founder Bill Maris. Both of those firms participated in the Series A, as well, and Casdin Capital founder Eli Casdin is now joining the company’s board. The Series B also includes a number of participating investors, including Baltimore-based Catalio Capital Management, Brown Advisory, and funds managed by Baltimore-headquartered financial firm T. Rowe Price. Inner Harbor-based equity firm Camden Partners was among the Series A investors that returned, as well. Additional new investors include Bain Capital Life Sciences, Driehaus Capital Management, Intermountain Ventures, Janus Henderson Investors, Lux Capital, Moore Strategic Ventures, Perceptive Advisors, Rock Springs Capital and Sands Capital.

For perspective: Companies across the entire state of Maryland raised a total of $358 million last quarter. Over the last five years, it’s the largest venture deal we’ve seen since a $250 million funding round for Columbia cybersecurity company Tenable in 2015 that at the time set a national record.

The company has also grown its presence in Baltimore. It now has 42 employees in Johns Hopkins’ innovation hub at 1812 Ashland Ave., which is located near the Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore. The focus there is on R&D and lab operations. Going forward, the company plans to continue hiring: Dev postings right now for Baltimore show a senior machine learning scientist, a cloud engineer and a senior UI/UX designer.


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