Scipio bioscience has raised €6M in a Series A round to launch cost-effective single-cell RNA sequencing kits, which could have big potential in profiling cells for research and clinical diagnostics.
The round was led by M Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Merck. Other investors in the round included Seventure Partners’ seed fund Quadrivum I, High-Tech Gründerfonds, Financière Arbevel, and the VC firm investiere.
The Parisian biotech company will use the money to complete the development of a cost-effective method for RNA sequencing in single cells for the purposes of research and clinical diagnostics. The funding will also allow marketing preparations for a commercial launch of the kit in 2022.
Single-cell sequencing has been seen as a paradigm shift in genomics, because it lets researchers monitor the gene expression of individual cells, instead of averaging across an entire tissue sample.
“Through single-cell analysis, researchers can obtain a more detailed picture of cellular subtypes, and their physical location in tissues,” Arnaud Autret, Investment Principal at M Ventures, told me. “In addition, rare cells can be identified and linked to a potential function or pathological behavior.”
One big limitation of single-cell sequencing is that the technique is costly and labor-intensive. Furthermore, the technology is often sold along with microfluidics machines costing more than €60,000 to process the samples.
Scipio’s goal is to make cheap lab kits that allow the samples to be processed in test tubes and without needing to buy expensive equipment. The samples can then be sequenced and analyzed using equipment that researchers normally use. By making the process cheaper, Scipio aims to drive the advance of research, diagnostics technology, and personalized medicine.
“Single-cell analysis will become a standard for researchers,” Autret said. “The current bottleneck is the accessibility to infrastructures allowing to run such experiments as well as the high pricing.”
The company is trialing the kit with the Brain and Spine Institute in Paris, and plans to launch more collaborations with other research institutes.
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