Billions are spent every year on treating rheumatoid arthritis patients with drugs that sometimes work, and sometimes don’t. Now South San Francisco-based Crescendo Bioscience has pulled in more cash to help commercialize a diagnostic test that is supposed to help physicians better treat individual patients.
Crescendo is announcing today it has raised $28 million in a Series D venture financing led by Skyline Ventures and Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE: SFE). Existing investors Mohr Davidow Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Aeris Capital and others joined the round. The company, which secured its Series A financing in 2007, has now raised about $100 million total, says CEO Bill Hagstrom.
The latest investment didn’t include Salt Lake City, UT-based Myriad Genetics (NASDAQ: MYGN), which has an option to acquire Crescendo at a pre-determined pricethrough September 2014 if the company can hit certain financial goals, Hagstrom says. Crescendo’s hope is that by taking the additional investment, it will be able to grow fast enough to hit some of the more aggressive goals laid out in its agreement with Myriad, he says.
Crescendo spent the past year building up a market for its first product, a diagnostic test called Vectra DA. The test is designed to help physicians see what’s wrong at the molecular level in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, a painful condition in which the immune system goes haywire and attacks joints. The Vectra test analyzes 12 key biomarkers of inflammation that are linked to clinical symptoms of disease like pain, fatigue, and joint damage. By looking at the biomarkers on the Vectra test, Crescendo says that physicians can see how sick a patient is at their initial diagnosis, how well they are responding to a certain therapy in the early days, and how they are performing against the disease over the long haul.
The potential market for such a diagnostic is big, especially by diagnostic industry standards. About 1.3 million patients in the U.S. have rheumatoid arthritis, and many of them live for decades with the disease. Once a patient gets diagnosed by a clinical exam, there are some generic therapies to try, like methotrexate. But the big money has been made … Next Page »
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