Predictive Biosciences Closes $21.75 Million Round to Help Detect Cancer From Urine

10/16/08Follow @bbuderi

No sooner did Rebecca note the recent dearth of life sciences venture financings than we got word of a sizable one: Lexington, MA-based Predictive Biosciences, which has a small office in San Diego and is out to help build a new era of personalized medicine, announced today that is has secured $21.75 million in Series B financing. The round was led by new investor New Enterprise Associates and joined by Kaiser Permanente Ventures (also new) and previous investors Highland Capital Partners and Flybridge Capital Partners.

Predictive, founded in 2006, had previously raised $10 million and was formed around work done over a number of years at Children’s Hospital Boston. We profiled the startup almost a year ago to the day, in a piece that looked at its strategy of trying to develop tests designed to facilitate better, more individualized treatment of cancer. The company’s first goal: developing tools to allow doctors to detect cancer from urine samples, thereby sparing patients expensive and often grueling practices such as invasive exams and biopsies.

One of the company’s co-founders, Marsha Moses, currently leads the Urinary Proteomics Initiative at Children’s Hospital, where she helped to build what she described as “the largest urine bank in the world.” As our correspondent Malorye Allison wrote, “Having all that pee on hand and all those years of research under their belts has helped the Predictive team identify a new set of biomarkers, or telltale molecules, that are shed into the urine by a range of cancers, including biggies like breast and colon tumors.”

In today’s announcement, Predictive said the new funds will help support ongoing clinical development of its urine-based assays, which are focused initially on detecting bladder cancer recurrence. (Bladder cancer patients typically must endure a cystoscopy—an extremely uncomfortable procedure where a tube is inserted into the bladder—every three months for the first two years after their cancer is removed, and more than a dozen times in total over a five-year period.) “Over the coming months, we will continue to execute our clinical development and commercialization plans, and complete preparations to launch a multi-center clinical trial in bladder cancer recurrence patients,” said Predictive CEO Peter Klemm in a statement.

The company also has high hopes for another program for ruling out bladder cancer in patients with hematuria, or blood in the urine, says Eugene Chiu, another Predictive co-founder who is now VP of business development. Only a small percentage of patients with hematuria actually have bladder cancer, but many have to undergo cystoscopy to rule out the disease, Chiu says. For a patient who doesn’t actually have cancer, Predictive’s tests could determine that with such a high accuracy the patient and his doctor could decide to skip the cystoscopy, he says.

Ultimately, the company aims to develop tests for breast, ovarian, prostate, and colorectal cancers, among other cancers—thereby helping usher in a new era of more personalized treatment. “What this really does is in a way it individualizes and personalizes the diagnostic interventions which are done,” says Chiu.

Although Predictive is based in Massachusetts, both CEO Klemm and CFO Vikram Lamba work out of San Diego. (Klemm and Lamba were CEO and CFO, respectively, of San Diego’s GeneOhm Sciences, which was sold for $230 million to Becton Dickinson in 2006.) “We’re looking at building a global organization, and the fact that our management team is actually on both coasts in a way is an advantage for us,” says Chiu.

And he predicts that Predictive’s success will be good for both regions. “We’re going to make some waves,” Chiu says.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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