St. Louis-based Pieriandx, a clinical genomics informatics company, reported that it has closed a $27 million series B funding round led by Atw Partners and Sjf Ventures.

Pieriandx provides a software-as-a-service platform that the company says permits the practice of clinical genomics as a standard of care. The company focuses on advancing cancer diagnostics and making targeted therapeutics more accessible to health care systems, laboratories and patients.

The round also included support from existing investors Health Catalyst Capital, Inova Health Systems, Rti International and Arup Laboratories.

Michael Sanderson, CEO of Pieriandx, noted that the funds will help speed the commercial expansion of the company's clinical genomics platform in the U.S., as well as Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin America and North America. He added that the company has worked with a range of partners, to include pharma companies, in this arena.

"Pieriandx is fueled by making the most advanced clinically actionable cancer care accessible to everyone, regardless of location or ability to pay," he said.

It already has made strides. In March 2018, it reported the release of a full range of expanded services to support adoption of its Clinical Genomics Workspace. One component of Pieriandx's services encompasses preparing labs for precision medicine and expanded molecular testing, which includes planning with the clinical team, molecular tumor board development, physician engagement, and technology integration into legacy laboratory information management systems and electronic medical records. The other component of Pieriandx's technology-enabled scientific and medical services is focused on the clinical lab, which includes services for assay validation, assay selection and interpretation.

Washington University spinout

"We're a knowledge-based supporter of people who do NGS [next-generation sequencing]," Sanderson told BioWorld MedTech. He noted that the company was spun out of Washington University in St. Louis and boasts clients such as Cedar Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic and Moffitt Cancer Center. "And we basically have built the gold standard of knowledge bases to support NGS providers," he added.

According to a market research report released this month by Meticulous Research, titled "Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Market by Type (Consumables, NGS Platform, Software), Sequencing Type (Whole Genome, Targeted), Technology (Sequencing by Synthesis, Sequencing by Ligation), Application (Clinical, Research), End User – Global Forecasts to 2025," the NGS market is expected to grow 16.2% from 2019 to reach $10.35 billion by 2025.

A huge player in the space is San Diego-based Illumina Inc., which owns about 80% of the sequencing market, as Sanderson noted. His company already has a partnership with Illumina that is slated to last seven years. Unveiled earlier this year, the partnership will aim to provide a variant interpretation and reporting solution based on Pieriandx's Clinical Genomics Workspace platform and Clinical Genomics Knowledgebase for select Illumina oncology products.

As part of that agreement, the two will offer customers the option of informatics capabilities for Illumina oncology products. That would cover Illumina's Trusight Tumor 170 and Trusight Oncology 500, which are currently intended for research use only. The partnership also will support Illumina's future oncology in vitro diagnostic offerings.

Sanderson added that the company has three active partners and working on several others, but Illumina is the biggest. And things are going well in that relationship, which he categorized as "exploding." The duo are working on a partnership extension in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. "So, the partnership is not only going great, it's expanded already," he affirmed.

Democratizing NGS

"Basically, we are continuing our march toward democratizing [NGS] around the globe," he responded when asked about initiatives planned for the next 12 to 18 months. "And our vision is, everyone should be able to do this out in the community that they're in. And the only way they can do that is they have the proper wisdom, they understand the outcome from that NGS test."

The company appears to be steaming ahead. For his part, Rakesh Nagarajan, founder and executive chairman of the company, noted Pieriandx's growth over just the last 18 months. "Our team is uniquely skilled and dedicated to the adoption of clinical NGS around the globe," he added.

In fact, Washington University, where Nagarajan worked, played an instrumental role in the Human Genome Project. The institution's McDonnell Genome Institute contributed more than 20% of the draft sequence to the project, while helping to develop a comprehensive bacterial artificial chromosome clone map of the human genome.

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