The French company SeqOne Genomics has raised €20M in a Series A round as growing investments reach startups delivering the next generation of genomics and bioinformatics.
The cost of sequencing the human genome has plummeted over the decades to less than €900 ($1,000) today. Partly thanks to advances in cloud computing, innovations are flourishing in the bioinformatics space that could have applications in drug discovery and personalized medicine.
The €197M initial public offering of the Swiss firm SOPHiA Genetics in July last year showcased the growth potential for European bioinformatics firms. Over the last several months, there has been a steady stream of venture funding rounds going to startups working in bioinformatics, including Depixus in France and Lifebit in the UK.
According to Jean-Marc Holder, Chief Strategic Officer of the French firm SeqOne Genomics, SOPHiA Genetics’ IPO “clearly showed the importance and potential of genomic medicine and the value that could be placed on successful companies.” He added that it focused investor interest in the space and shone a spotlight on other promising companies.
This week, SeqOne Genomics raised a €20M Series A round to finance the development of cloud-based software to help hospitals and pharmaceutical companies carry out genomic analyses. The technology is designed to speed up the adoption of personalized approaches for patients with cancer and genetic diseases.
“The genomics analysis market is experiencing exponential growth driven by the needs of personalized medicine,” stated Fabien Collangettes, Director at the French investment firm Omnes, one of the participants in SeqOne’s Series A round.
“With the rapid expansion in the available genomic-linked treatments, the complexity of treatment interactions, and the staggering volume of biological and medical data to be factored into each medical decision, biologists and doctors must have access to reliable and actionable analyses in real-time.”
According to SeqOne, its machine learning-guided strategy has a faster turnaround time than current genomics services, which is crucial for tailoring treatment approaches to each patient.
“Our end-to-end approach offers some real benefits as it facilitates traceability essential for lab certification, makes processes more efficient by minimizing manual steps, and improves accuracy of results by creating a complete and well-structured dataset that facilitates machine learning approaches,” said Holder.
Other startups are focusing on different niches in the genomics and bioinformatics space. Lifebit made a splash in the UK in September last year with a Series B round worth over €50M. The company is building a data-sharing network that lets drug developers access standardized genomics and clinical data. The technology also simultaneously maximizes the privacy of those contributing their medical information.
“We believe all biomedical data that can be used to save lives, should be used,” said Maria Chatzou Dunford, Lifebit’s CEO, in a public statement last year. “People are dying because of how this data is being handled, and making distributed highly-sensitive biomedical data usable while keeping it secure in-place and combining it with other data has never been possible. Until now.”
Depixus in France raised its own impressive Series A round of €30M in December 2021 to look beyond the genetic code. The company investigates chemical modifications to DNA and RNA molecules, which influence how and when genes are turned into proteins.
“Our technology looks set to open new horizons in applications such as biomarker discovery for liquid biopsy cancer detection, virology, and the development of drugs targeting RNA,” stated Gordon Hamilton, CEO and co-founder of Depixus, last month.
Also of note is the interest by technology companies and investors in bioinformatics companies. SeqOne’s Series A investors included tech specialists such as the firm Elaia Partners, while Lifebit’s Series B round was led by the US tech investor Tiger Global Management. Tech players appear to be taking the growth potential for European bioinformatics startups seriously.
Cover image via Elena Resko