By Mary Welch

Exact Laboratories Inc., which is developing a colorectal cancer screening assay, raised $32 million in a Series D financing.

The company, based in Maynard, Mass., will use the funds to conduct larger-scale multi-center trials and continue development and testing of its first-line, non-invasive screening services to detect colorectal cancer, as well as other cancers.

¿We¿re a novel story,¿ said Stanley Lapidus, Exact¿s founder and president. ¿We¿re not a genomics company, not a drug therapy company and we¿re not a diagnostic company. We¿re an applied genomics company. We apply genomics-based information to detect cancer.¿

The company uses normally gathered DNA samples, such as in urine or stool, and can find cancerous or precancerous cells. ¿It¿s a combination of understanding of the genomics basis of cancer and the very specific technology that we have developed to elucidate small populations of DNA. From that we can detect the earliest genetic changes associated with colorectal cancer.¿

In a study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the test was effective in identifying individuals with colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps.

¿It was about 90 percent effective in detecting colon cancer, with no false positives,¿ Lapidus said. ¿In addition, it had the same percentage of success detecting lung and pancreatic cancer. Lung cancer is rarely caught early, but if it is, your chances are pretty good. If pancreatic cancer is caught early, your chances aren¿t terrible.¿

The test, called the Exact Test, will enter larger studies this summer.

The financing round was led by DCF Capital, of Greenwich, Conn. Other new investors included Zesiger Capital LLC, of New York; Back Bay Consulting Group Inc., of Boston; Vulcan Northwest Ventures, of Bellevue, Wash.; Robertson Stephens, of San Francisco; and Paine Webber Inc. and Galleon Group, both of New York.

Existing investors who participated included One Liberty Ventures, Greylock Management Corp. and Highland Capital Partners, all of Boston; Ashford Capital Management, of Wilmington, Del.; RS Investment Management, of San Francisco; Mayo Foundation for Medication Education and Research, of Rochester; and Boston University Community Technology Fund, HLM Management and CB Health Ventures, all of Boston.

Lapidu said the recent publicity about the cancer, led by ¿The Today Show¿s¿ Katie Couric, impacted the company¿s ability to raise money.

¿March was colorectal cancer awareness month and she, and others, were able to communicate that this cancer is common and preventable,¿ he said. ¿That¿s the first step to eradicating a disease. We think this awareness, from a business perspective, was enormously helpful as we raised money.¿